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19 1910 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS 
OF THE NEGRO 

Research into the Conditions of the Negro Race in Southern Towns 



A STUDY IN RACE TRAITS, TENDENCIES 
AND PROSPECTS 



BY 

HOWARD W. ODUM 



SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS 

FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 

IN THE 

FACULTY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



NEW YORK 
IQIO 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS 
OF THE NEGRO 

Research into the Conditions of the Negro Race in Southern Towns 



A STUDY IN RACE TRAITS, TENDENCIES 
AND PROSPECTS 



BY 

HOWARD W. ODUM 



SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS 
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 

IN THE 

FACULTY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



OF THE 

UNIVCRSr 

OF 




NEW YORK 
I9IO 



. 



COPYRIGHT, 1910 

BY 
HOWARD W. ODUM 




PREFACE 

THIS work has three purposes. First, it is an effort to 
contribute something toward a scientific knowledge of the 
Negro. It aims to describe the conditions of negro life in 
Southern communities and to analyze the essential qualities 
of the race. Second, it is presented, not as a final treatment 
of the entire subject but as a beginning, along with other 
special studies, 1 for a scientific but practical study of the 
Negro in the South. Third, it tries to interpret the Negro 
Problem and to some extent to suggest means by which the 
heart of the problem may be reached. It seeks to avoid 
generalities and to present qualitative, specific, concrete re 
sults. The suggestions made look toward the improvement 
and development of the negro race and to the establishment 
of relations between the races which shall be permanently 
satisfactory. 

In the prosecution of the investigation assistance has been 
received with varying degrees of co-operation from many 
persons throughout the South. Much encouragement has 
been offered by a large number of those interested in the 
study of the Negro and in the Southern problem. It is 
hoped that the results of the study will repay to some extent 
all those who have assisted in various ways. 

1 See " Religious Folk-songs of the Southern Negroes " by the author 
in The American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, 
July, 1909, vol. iii, pp. 265-365. It is the purpose of a companion work 
on Negro Folk-songs and Folk-thought, to be published, at an early 
date by the American Folk-lore Society, to study something of 
the social psychology and folk-ways of the Southern negroes and 
to present some aspects of the Negro s mental imagery, style and 
habits. 

309] 5 



207002 



<5 PREFACE [ 3ia 

Special thanks are due to Professor David H. Bishop of 
the University of Mississippi and to President W. L. Weber 
of the Centenary College of Louisiana for valuable sugges 
tions and criticisms, to Professor Albert Bushnell Hart of 
Harvard University for important critical suggestions and 
aids,, to President G. Stanley Hall of Clark University for 
his personal interest, encouragement, and assistance, and to 
Professor Franklin H. Giddings and Professor Edwin R. A. 
Seligman of Columbia University for invaluable criticisms, 
suggestions, and co-operation in making it possible for the 
work to appear in its present form. 

Special acknowledgment is also due Dr. Thomas P. 
Bailey, Superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, for 
merly Professor of Psychology and Education in the Uni 
versity of Mississippi, under whose direction the special 
studies were begun. Throughout the work his suggestions 
and co-operation have been helpful. The best results of the 
studies herein presented will be only a meagre testimonial 
to his discriminating study of the Negro and to his scientific 
interest and enthusiasm in promoting original research into 
many important problems. 

Perhaps the more natural arrangement of chapters would 
be in the order : Home Life and Morals, The Negro Offen 
der, Social Status, Fraternal Organizations, Churches and 
Religion, The Emotions, Education, and The Negro Prob 
lem, with a summary of discussions. The plan on which 
the results are presented in this book, however, is to pass 
from the more external conditions, through the special reli 
gious and social activities of the Negro, to his more private 
life; then, to proceed from the more general social life and 
traits to the discussion of the total problem and to the con 
clusions. In this way it is hoped that each chapter will be 
carefully correlated with all the other chapters. 

H. W. O. 

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, APRIL i, 1910. 



CONTENTS 



FACE 

PREFACE ^ 5 

INTRODUCTION 

The Negro judged by appearances 13 

Individuals and the community 14 

Diversity of conditions and problems 15 

Value of specific results *. . . 17 

Scope of the work 17 

Difficulties in the way of the investigator 18 

Purpose and tentative results of the work 20 

A knowledge of actual conditions the first essential 20 

Present tendencies in the South 21 

The need for the study of the problem 21 

CHAPTER I 

NEGRO SCHOOLS AND THE EDUCATION OF THE NEGRO 

The problem stated 23 

Negro children of school age, regularity of attendance, age and 

sex conditions of negro teachers in Southern States 25 

General school facilities among the negroes in Southern towns . . 26 

Number of pupils enrolled to each teacher; salaries of teachers . . 27 

Irregularity of attendance 29 

Causes for poor attendance 29 

The poorer negro teacher yz 

The better negro teacher 33 

Working conditions and daily routine of school life 34 

Characteristics of negro children 36 

Brightness and ability of negro children 37 

Race conditions of the Negro ; the child s inheritance 39 

Effect of education upon negro youth 41 

Methods that have been suggested for educating the Negro. ... 42 

Inconsistency of past and present methods 44 

Imitation of the white man vs. efficiency 46 

7 



g CONTENTS [ 3I2 

FACE 

A plan proposed for the education of the Negro for efficiency within 

the race 47 

Consideration of the objections to the plan 51 

Conditions to be met in the successful training of the Negro ... 52 

Regulation of attendance and supervision of negro schools .... 53 

CHAPTER II 

THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 

The function of the negro church 54 

Religious denominations among the negroes 54 

Location and description of negro churches 55 

Membership and assessments 57 

Church services and attendance 58 

Description of common worship 59 

Songs and music; qualities of negro church music 62 

Negro prayers; musical notation of appeal 67 

Preaching, sermons and responses; musical representation .... 73 

Church collections; various methods 78 

Satisfaction which the negro finds in all forms of worship 82 

Protracted meetings, conferences, and burials ......... 83 

The negro preacher 86 

Moral qualities of the Negro s religion 88 

Emotional and imaginative features 89 

Religious conceptions and beliefs 91 

White workers among the negroes; Sunday-schools 92 

Methods and results of such work 93 

Obstacles to effective religious work among the negroes 95 

General attitude of the white church toward the negro church . . 96 

Possible influence of religion upon the Negro 97 

CHAPTER III 

FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES 

The fraternal organization an institution among the negroes. ... 98 

Growth of fraternal orders and benevolent societies 99 

Organizations in Mississippi . 100 

Reports of certificates and assessments 101 

Compared with insurance societies of whites 102 

Membership among negro organizations 102 

Official newspaper organs 103 

Character and scope of work done by the various organizations; 

membership 104 



CONTENTS g 

FACE 

Subordinate lodges; name distinctions 105 

Juvenile societies 108 

Principal characteristics of negro societies 109 

Methods of propagation and support in 

Enthusiasm, interest, and pride 114 

Financial requirements and expenses 116 

Misappropriation of funds 120 

Delinquency and renewals 122 

Reports of the itinerant worker . 123 

Harmony and rivalry among separate orders 125 

Satisfaction and enjoyment obtained from lodge activities 125 

Officers, committees, and titles 128 

Superfluous activities: abuse of authority and trust 130 

Relative merits of the fraternal organization 132 

Its services to the Negro 133 

Objections and evils of fraternal societies among the negroes . . . 137 

Original aims and purposes 142 

Women s clubs 144 

An estimate of the negro lodge 145 

A platform suggested 148 

CHAPTER IV 

THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS OF THE NEGRO 

Home life the basis of individual and social character 150 

What of the Negro s home life? 150 

Location and description of negro houses 151 

Classification according to number of rooms; number in family . . 152 

Living conditions in the negro home 153 

Interior furnishings 153 

Disorder and filth; conditions of earning livelihood 155 

Relations between husband and wife as head of family 156 

Supplies of provisions and habits of living 157 

Unsanitary conditions, lack of hygiene, filthy habits 159 

Relations between members of family; punishment of children; dis 
integration of the home 160 

Absence of general literature and the Bible 162 

Resulting conditions 163 

Sexual immorality and ethical views; negro children 164 

Vulgarity of practices, songs and thought 166 

Diseases and health conditions 167 

Liabilities to disease; differences between whites and blacks . . . 168 

Testimony of practicing physicians 170 



10 CONTENTS [ 3 ! 4 

PAGE 

The seriousness of the situation 172 

Attitude of the better negroes 173 

The brighter side; better conditions 174 

Difficulties of negro environment 175 

The Negro s conception of home 176 

The white man s part in tbe problem of the negro home and morals. 177 

The -Negro s part .... 179 

Conclusions ^ 181 

CHAPTER V 

THE NEGRO OFFENDER 

Scope of the inquiry * . 182 

Characteristics of the ante-bellum Negro; the Negro in Africa. . . 184 

Fundamental aspects of the problem of negro crime 186 

Negro crime in smaller communities 188 

The woman offender 189 

Detailed reports 190 

Reports from larger communities 192 

General conditions 195 

Negro crime in cities 196 

Ages of white and black offenders 197 

Months in which arrests are most frequent 199 

Detailed records of offences in cities 202 

Relative nature of crimes of whites and blacks 206 

Defence of the Negro 207 

Negro commits more offences for which he is not punished than 

offences for which he is taken into judgment 208 

Negroes often the accusers 209 

Weakness and the gratification of impulse the chief cause of crime. 210 

The Negro more an offender than a criminal 210 

General conclusions; seriousness of the Negro s condition .... 211 

CHAPTER VI 

THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 

What determines the Negro s status? 213 

The home, criminal tendencies, church, fraternal organizations and 

schools of the negroes considered 213 

The negro laborer; classification 214 

Inefficiency and vagrancy . 219 

Professional ethics of idleness 220 

Wages and demand 221 



315] CONTENTS ll 



PAGE 



The Negro s expenditure of money 222 

The Negro as a property owner 223 

Improvidence and poverty 224 

Negro society in general 225 

Sunday with the negro 225 

During the week 227 

Specific modes of entertainment 228 

Various enjoyments 230 

The Negro in song j . 231 

Social standards 233 

Attitude of youth to old age 234 

Attitude toward women 235 

Jealousies and rivalries; caste .... 236 

Limitations of the Negro s society 237 

CHAPTER VII 

THE EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO AND THEIR RELATION TO CONDUCT 

Is the Negro differentiated by his emotional development? .... 238 

The essential nature of the negro s emotions 239 

Illustrated by fear; nature and manifestations of 240 

Anger, revenge, jealousy 242 

Sympathy and imitation; satisfaction 246 

Love and affection 251 

Self-feelings; positive and negative 254 

Individual and group strivings of the negroes 258 

Sex-feelings; relation of sex to conduct and development 259 

Morbid pleasures and pains 260 

Lack of restraint and extreme expression of feelings 260 

The social emotions of the Negro 261 


CHAPTER VIII 

THE NEGRO PROBLEM: AN ESTIMATE OF THE NEGRO 

Theories, discussions and solutions for the negro problem .... 262 

The student to interpret the problem 264 

Requirements for an effective interpretation 265 

Research into conditions of the negro race in the South 266 

General conditions of the Negro 267 

General attitudes and tendencies 268 

Specific traits; psychological processes and sociological tendencies. 270 

Summary of character-tendencies of the Negro 272 

Form of expression of predominant traits 273 



12 CONTENTS 

PAGE 

An estimate of the Negro s essential qualities 274 

Qualifications of such an estimate 275 

The Negro s environment 276 

Industrial conditions; the laborer 277 

The problem of labor in the South 278 

Unreliability of negro labor .... 279 

Growing dissatisfaction 280 

South prefers negro labor in general 281 

The economic value of the Negro to the state 282 

Poverty and the accumulation of property 283 

The better economic element among the negroes 284 

Points of weakness 285 

Relations between whites and blacks; political and social equality . 286 

The explanation of the extreme race-feeling 287 

The Negro s development must be through a slow growth ... 288 

The Negro s part in the present situation 289 

The quality of hopefulness 291 

Necessity of the whites 292 

Rational thinking and policies essential; no place for pessimism . . 293 

The critic answered . . . 295 

The best outlook 296 

APPENDIX 

CHILDREN DIFFER IN ENVIRONMENT 

By Thomas P. Bailey, Ph. D., Supt. of Schools, Memphis, Tenn. 299 



INTRODUCTION 

DISCUSSIONS of the Negro in the South have become .->o 
frequent and so varied that he may well be called the cen 
tral figure in Southern problems. But the Negro is too 
often judged only partially. The North estimates him by 
a limited number of industrious and competent workmen 
and by the more intelligent negroes. In the South the 
Negro is estimated purely from everyday contact under 
domestic and industrial conditions, and this general esti 
mate of the black man is influenced much by what is heard 
about him in common talk and political harangue. The 
fact is neglected that the Negro has a life and environment 
of his own which the whites do not see, which after all may 
be at the bottom of his actions. To understand the real 
Negro, he must be known in his home, in his more private 
activities, at his church and lodge, where, as a rule, he is 
not a creature of restraint in his natural actions, as well as 
in the common appearances of the Negro s everyday life. 

The white community sees the destructive factors that are 
at work among the negroes; it sees little of the construc 
tive factors that make for better conditions. The com 
munity is kept informed of negro crime and vice through 
the press, the courts, and the common trend of events and 
conversation ; of the negro school and church, whether good 
or crude, it sees little. Likewise, little attention is given to 
the rich variety of negro life, negro folk-songs and folk- 
thought, to the inner qualities of the Negro s nature or to 
the essential causes of his conduct. Observing the loafer 
317] 13 



J4 INTRODUCTION 

on the streets, the crowds of negroes who come to town on 
Saturday, the jovial good-natured darkies, or the formal 
appearances of groups of negroes is not knowing the Negro; 
nor can he be judged alone from the laborer or the criminal 
at large. 

While the white community does not know the Negro at 
his best, it is also true that it does not know him at his worst. 
Painful as the fact is, it must nevertheless be recognized. 
The negro loafer is observed on the street; he is not seen 
as he obtains his living from some hard-working woman 
who has toiled for her wages, nor as he corrupts other mem 
bers of his race. The community sees the criminal in the 
courts; it does not see the long train of crimes that has 
brought him there. The thoughtful white man sees the 
laborer and recognizes such a negro as a worthy and in 
dustrious citizen; but the white man does not see him as 
he struggles or more exactly does not even struggle 
against the onrush of his animal nature which leads him 
to neglect and abuse himself, his home and his family. It 
is generally admitted that the Negro does not get justice 
on many occasions; people do not as well remember that 
his faults are often overlooked. Many times he is not ap 
prehended for an evil for which the white man is punished. 
This is not a rare but a common experience. Much is 
heard of the cases brought to trial ; the world hears nothing 
of the frequent instances in which the weakness of the black 
race is accorded patience by the stronger race. 

The fact that there are individuals among the negroes 
who are worthy of the highest respect is gladly recognized 
and gives hope that better possibilities lie within the race. 
Groups or communities of such negroes would do much to 
ward bettering conditions ; but they do not exist in this re 
lation, and here, perhaps, may be found the key to the 
situation. With the groups of families the community is 



319] INTRODUCTION l $ 

formed, associations and surroundings are fixed, and a cen 
tral point from which a greater influence emanates is deter 
mined. The group communities form the towns; the con 
ditions of the county are largely influenced by those of the 
town. And just as the town in the South is a very potent 
unit in the total social structure, just so the larger com 
munities among the negroes invariably set the standard of 
relationship, both among the negroes themselves a^id be 
tween the whites and blacks. To know the Negro, then, in 
this relation of groups or communities, is to know him best ; 
to assist him here is to assist him most effectively. So it is 
the purpose of this work to study, not specimens or eccen 
tric characters, not picturesque or sensational phases of 
negro life, but representative life that is common to the 
great mass of negroes; to find out something of his home 
life, his labors, his faults and his virtues, his school ideals 
and work, his social life and standards, his lodge life, his 
church and his religion. In short, the purpose is to reach 
some insight into what the Negro appears to be and what he 
really is, what he may desire to be and what he may possi 
bly become in his future development. 

In approaching such a discussion of the Negro, it is 
necessary to note that particulars vary widely ; that the prob 
lem is different in every state and county and community 
according as conditions vary. The negroes in parts of 
South Carolina, for instance, are different from those in 
Georgia in certain particulars; those in South Mississippi 
are quite different from those gathered in larger towns of 
the South. Again, it is not surprising to find that the negro 
problem hardly exists where there are only a few negroes. 
A certain county in Alabama has only one negro to every 
twenty-five hundred whites, and there are a dozen counties 
in the Southern States where there is only one negro to 
every hundred and seventy-five whites. On the other hand, 



!6 INTRODUCTION [320 

there are fourteen counties in the South where seven-eighths 
of the people are negroes, and six counties in Mississippi 
where the whites form less than ten per cent of the popula 
tion. Similarly the numerical proportions vary in different 
degrees throughout the South. 

Again, the question is less acute and complex in sections 
where negroes assume a submissive and deferential attitude 
than it is in those communities where they assume an ob 
stinate or aggressive attitude. The situation is different in 
a town where the negroes make a special effort to pass on 
the outside of the sidewalk from that in a town where the 
opposite is true. The problem, in its immediate and practi 
cal aspects is different in the cities from that in the towns; 
that in the towns differs from that in the country; condi 
tions in the rural districts themselves vary widely. The 
negro who has been more or less left to himself is quite 
different from the negro who, by constant observation, has 
sought to imitate the white man s culture and attainment 
on the one hand, or who has assimilated the white man s 
vices on the other. Conclusions may not be stated dogma 
tically, unless qualified to include numerous exceptions. In 
deed, it must be said that exceptions to the general rule of 
conduct are notable among the negroes. Likewise it would 
be a serious mistake to assume that all negroes are alike in 
character and conduct. It is very likely that the great 
majority of negroes in these communities possess the weak 
nesses and defects portrayed in the following pages, but 
there are many exceptions, worthy citizens among them who 
play an important part in the general life of the commun 
ity. The other extreme which asserts that these character 
istics are not representative because there are many ex 
ceptions is as ill-founded. So long as the average of race 
characteristics and race capacity are of a proved order, ex 
ceptional cases of individual development will not suffice to 



32 1 ] INTRODUCTION ! 7 

characterize the race. For the millions may not be judged 
by the "submerged tenth " nor by the " chosen ten." 

But it is possible to secure and formulate results obtained 
from careful studies of a limited number of communities, 
based on co-operation on the part of negroes, on results 
obtained by many who have labored among the negroes, on 
the testimony of physicians and professional men of repute, 
and on careful concrete studies in which no pains has/been 
spared to make them accurate and exhaustive. The facts 
brought out by these studies ought surely to have some 
value. It is not claimed that the conclusions reached apply 
to the negro race as a whole in the South or in any state; 
they are intended to be qualitative as they apply to certain 
phases and tendencies of life in the communities studied. 
But they are applicable to a large number of communities 
in the South ; and while these towns are not typical in every 
respect, comparison of the results with further extensive in 
quiry seems to establish the fact that the conditions de 
scribed in this work are similar to those of the majority of 
average communities in the South composed of whites and 
blacks. 

Fifty towns in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida 
and Tennessee, most of which are county seats, were taken 
as the main basis for the investigation herein presented. 
Their population varies from fifteen hundred to ten thous 
and inhabitants, the average being about four thousand. 
Some twenty other towns representing North Carolina, 
South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana were studied to some 
extent for purposes of comparison. In the chapter on the 
negro criminal, data from the larger cities are included 
also. For a number of years data have been gathered 
from all possible sources in the Southern States. Con 
tinued research and comparisons for verification have been 
made for two years since the first work was summarized. 



jg INTRODUCTION [322 

The studies strive to emphasize the most important phases 
of the problem, which are, for the most part, at the same 
time those most neglected. The study is one of town life 
rather than city or rural ; it is further a study of community 
relationship, showing something of negro life as it is related 
to the whites. The work is qualitative and its purpose is 
to get at a proper beginning rather than to generalize on 
ultimate solutions. 

The difficulties in the way of making accurate investiga 
tions into the conditions of negro life are greater than 
can be realized by one who has not undertaken the task. 
Aids in making investigations must be had from 6oth whites 
and blacks. The whites, for the most part, are lacking in 
accurate knowledge of specific existing conditions ; the blacks 
are very untrustworthy and secretive. Among the whites 
there is an abundance of general knowledge and opinions 
about the Negro ; but accurate information which can be put 
in tangible form is almost entirely wanting. This ignor 
ance of vital particulars is surprising. Again, it is difficult 
to obtain accurate information from public records, from 
officers and clerks, since there is little provision made for 
the separation even of the more significant and important 
statistics of whites and blacks. The negroes are by nature 
and cultivation secretive. The average black seldom gives 
correct information in regard to more important details. 
Most negroes are skilful in making up plausible stories 
even as they talk; they often expand on minute details hav 
ing no foundation in fact. It is only wheri the more reliable 
negroes feel confident that the information is sought by a 
sincere searcher and that the purpose is friendly, that any 
effort on the Negro s part is made to convey the desired in 
formation. Conclusions based upon testimony, whether 
from whites or blacks, if they are to be reliable, can be 
reached only through repeated inquiry from various sources, 



323] INTRODUCTION IOy 

and by carefully checking all results. This method has 
been followed in these investigations ; in this way, too, com 
parative data have been invaluable. 

Other difficulties present themselves. There is a marked 
tendency on the part of the whites to look with suspicion 
and ridicule upon all searchers after facts about the Negro. 
They are, moreover, considered as mere theorists. Such an 
attitude is not without a good foundation in some respects; 
but this does not change the difficulty or differentiate be 
tween the real student and the false. Furthermore, the 
motive and attitude of persons making investigations are 
likely to be misunderstood by the negroes, who interpret 
the efforts as very beneficial to them or as harmful. Fin 
ally, the student finds difficulty in holding himself to the 
persistent, sustained, and laborious effort that a searching 
investigation requires. Many incidents growing out of the 
efforts to secure his information are repulsive, not to say 
nauseous and gruesome. Only the hardiest scientific inter 
est in discoverable facts can sustain the investigator. These 
conditions, together with the fact that the tendency of both 
the popular and scientific mind seems to be slow in reward 
ing such investigations, has sufficed to make most investiga 
tions general and superficial. 

The student who seeks for the truth must begin at the 
bottom, take the position that he knows little of his subject, 
and welcome all true information that may come to him. 
Experience in this process and the results gained by the in 
vestigation lead to the hope that it is not expecting too much 
of the ordinary reader if he is asked to assume the same at 
titude. Nothing can be accomplished of lasting results un 
less the essential qualities of the Negro are known ; it is im 
portant that the Negro should know himself. The acquire 
ment of such knowledge must necessarily precede any effec 
tive movements for the betterment of the race or for better 



20 INTRODUCTION [324 

relations between the races. It is hoped, then, that these 
studies may assist to some extent in bringing about a desire 
for further research, a desire which must precede the atti 
tude in which sentiment is informed with knowledge. It is 
well, too, for the Negro to see himself as he is seen from a 
different viewpoint than his own. Perhaps the majority of 
negroes never comprehend their situation at all. There is, 
however, hope that the Negro desires to comprehend the es 
sential weaknesses of the race. Is it possible that the lead 
ers of the race and the more intelligent among them shall 
permit their people to retrograde? Shall that happen, 
which has seldom occurred in the history of mankind, 
namely, that out of the darkness of race ignorance and 
savagery there should arise a few generations with promise 
of character and worth, only for the race to fall back toward 
barbarism, retaining only the vices of the civilization that 
touched their lives? To those of the negroes who are in 
earnest a true picture of their relation to the community 
and an indication of probable tendencies will be of service. 
As has already been suggested, this work should not be 
taken as a general study and as necessarily embodying final 
conclusions. It is hoped that other searchers will follow 
and, where the facts are different from those here presented, 
will set them forth clearly and without prejudice. It is 
not assumed in this work that because certain traits and 
characteristics are manifested by the Negro under certain 
conditions, that they are therefore peculiar to the Negro. 
The facts are stated in their order; the entire conclusion 
can be reached and interpreted only through the entire pic 
ture as portrayed in the total results. The whole discussion 
is necessary before arriving at the meaning of the whole 
situation; and it is not a part but the complete picture that 
should be seen. If there are those who have come in con 
tact with the better negroes only, or have had a very limited 



o 2 r] INTRODUCTION 21 

experience, and yet assume to know the whole subject in its 
practical application better than those who have lived in 
touch with its most vital problems, and have come to feel 
the full significance of every phase of the subject, to such, 
these glimpses are respectfully submitted, with the hope that 
they may investigate the truth or falsity of the assertions 
and come to see conditions as they are. 

While in the South the Negro is permitted a wide^range 
of employment, at the same time that exacting requirements 
are placed upon his conduct, still there is little interest felt, 
little knowledge had, concerning his home life and private 
conduct. But there is apparently a growing desire to know 
more of the Negro from impartial sources, more respect for 
earnest study of the situation, an increase in the number 
of persons downright in earnest in the study of the Negro, 
and a gratifying gain in the number of those inclined to im 
partiality, firmness and fairness, who feel the full signifi 
cance of at least the immediate situation. The relations 
between the better elements of both races seem to be im 
proving and there seems to be a growing tendency on the 
part of leaders to make every effort to get together. It is 
surprising and gratifying to note the co-operation of the 
best element of the negroes in systematic inquiry when once 
they are assured that the purpose of the work is friendly. 
This fact gives hope that impositions will cease and the at 
titude between the races may approach a normally desirable 
one. There is still opportunity for an understanding be 
tween the races. The situation calls for wise and positive 
action ; the demand is for sincere utterance based on reason 
and knowledge. 

Nor can the importance of a proper study of so vital a 
problem be doubted. Much has been said and written 
concerning various " solutions " of the problem. It is ex 
tremely doubtful if there is sufficient evidence as yet to per- 



22 INTRODUCTION [326 

mit a prediction of the outcome. The problem is one of 
time, subject to unforeseen social, political, and industrial 
influences. It may be possible, within a comparatively small 
number of years, to ascertain the direction which the solu 
tion will take. In the meantime, it is but reasonable it 
is essential that the problem have, for the present, more 
study and less discussion. It is but right that the Negro 
Problem be given the same consideration and study with 
the practical applications given other social and industrial 
problems, and that the racial element be recognized. The 
study which follows has special reference to such a policy, 
and the tentative conclusions arc given with a partial view 
to popular interpretation. 



CHAPTER I 

NEGRO SCHOOLS AND THE EDUCATION OF THE NEGRO 

THE question of the mental and moral training -6f the 
Negro has constituted the greatest problem to be solved in 
all efforts to improve the negro race. Southern leaders 
have sought to know the duty of the South in the matter of 
educating the Negro ; they have earnestly desired methods 
by which the best results might be obtained and have sought 
the means of reaching these ends. Northern philanthro- 
ists, too, have sought to assist in educating the negroes and 
have given liberally to the cause. At the same time, there 
has been no phase of the Southern problem in regard to 
which there has been a greater difference of opinion, more 
discussion and harangue, more fanaticism and misguided 
philanthropy, and upon which there has been more wasted 
energy and means. And to-day the situation is scarcely 
changed ; after years of work under the methods which have 
been used, after all the experiments that have been made, 
and after all the changes that have been suggested, wherein 
sentiment has often played too important a part, the situ 
ation still remains a puzzling one. While the schools for 
the negroes are in many cases apparently doing good work, 
they are not producing and have not produced results which 
were expected of them. To-day the problem is more seri 
ous than ever before and each year renders it more complex 
and unyielding to any definite solution. 

Inquiry into the problem of educating the Negro suggests 
several important aspects of the situation. First, the ques- 
327] 23 



24 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [328 

tion of the results of past efforts to educate the negroes, 
judged by the younger generations, is of immediate im 
portance. Second, what are the present school conditions 
which obtain among the negroes and to what extent and 
with what degree of accuracy can they be said to apply? 
Third, what is the exact problem of race inheritance and 
conditions of negro children? What is their capacity for 
education, and what sort of education is best adapted to 
their needs and capacities? Fourth, what are the possi 
bilities of the future and what are the essential needs of 
the situation ? Finally, will education save the Negro from 
his weaknesses? 

The extent to which education has succeeded in helping 
the Negro may not yet be known fully. It is possible, how 
ever, to estimate the general results which education in the 
past has had upon the negroes of the present generation. 
Such an estimate will be found, not only in the study of 
negro schools and education, but also in the careful study 
of the Negro s home life and morals, his record of crime, 
his industrial and social status, his social and religious life, 
and his general conduct, traits and tendencies. Likewise, 
the question of race inheritance and capacity for education, 
and the general possibilities of the future can be fully stated 
only in a thorough consideration of the entire problem of 
negro life. In this beginning chapter, therefore, the prob 
lem involved in the various aspects of the subject will be 
stated only briefly, the present conditions and facilities of 
negro schools described in a general way, and the question 
of adapting special methods of education to the negroes will 
be raised. This main problem should be kept in mind 
throughout the discussions and the facts related in the studies 
herein presented should be applied to its consideration. The 
total problem may then be estimated and considered at the 
conclusion of the work. 



329] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 2 $ 

The scope of the entire problem of educating the Negro 
in the South is measured by the total number and condition 
of the negroes in the Southern States. The numerical ex 
tent to which an immediate beginning may be made through 
the younger generations is determined by the number of 
educable negro children and the proportion of those attend 
ing school, with the degrees of regularity, to those who do 
not attend. According to. the special studies made by the 
Census Bureau from the last Census there were in the South 
ern States Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, 
Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Caro 
lina, and Virginia 2,369,621 negroes of school age. Of 
these only 717,130 were enrolled, or, of all the educable 
children among the negroes in these states, only thirty per 
cent attended school at all. Of this thirty per cent, again, 
a little over thirty-four per cent were in attendance from 
two to three months during the year; a little more than 
thirty-one per cent from four to five months; twenty-eight 
per cent for six months, and six per cent were in attendance 
for only one month in the year. In Alabama, Georgia, 
North Carolina and South Carolina, the average was great 
est for those who attended from two to three months in the 
year ; in Florida, Mississippi and Virginia from four to five 
months; and in Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee for six 
months. Georgia had the largest number of negro children 
of school age of any state, having 356,667 enumerable 
colored children; of these only 110,586 were in attendance. 
Mississippi, ranking second with 315,422 negro children, 
had 125,850 in attendance, the largest number attending 
school in any state. In every state considered there was an 
excess of females over males in the school attendance of 
the negroes ; the average ratio was forty-seven males to fifty- 
three females. From five to nine years of age the males 
were nearly as many as the females. Among the whites 



26 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [330 

the males were in excess of females about four to every 
thousand. Among the whites, again, only one-fourth 
of the teachers were males, while among the negroes 
from one-third to two-fifths were males. Among the 
negroes the teachers were older than among the whites, 
the average for the negroes being thirty-two years, while 
for the whites it was much less. Likewise young male teach 
ers are far less numerous among the negroes than among 
the whites. 

Results to be obtained in the effort to educate the Negro 
through the present school system are further conditioned 
upon the school facilities offered to the negroes, the degree 
to which they take advantage of them, and the character 
of their teachers and the quality of work done. The schools 
described in this work are those of the better class which 
are found among the negroes of the average community. 
They do not include the negro colleges and special schools 
on the one hand, nor the poorer schools of the rural dis 
tricts, on the other. Negro schools differ widely in particu 
lars according as they are affected by the ideals and prac 
tices of the negroes, the facilities available, and the super 
vision of the whites. It is possible, however, to indicate 
much of the general nature of working conditions among 
the average negro schools. The negro school house is 
usually located in or near one of the negro sections of the 
town. 1 Most communities of the kind studied have only 
one building so that many of the children who do not live 
in the immediate vicinity must walk some distance, not in 
frequently from the opposite part of the town through the 
business portion, to attend school. A private school with 
a small enrollment is not uncommon. Likewise a few in 
dustrial and charitable institutions are found; but the gen- 

1 For the location of negro sections of the town see Chapter IV. 



331] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 2 J 

eral conditions in such schools do not differ materially from 
those of the ordinary schools. The school buildings of the 
negroes do not compare favorably with the negro churches 
of the same community. The former are erected by the 
whites, and the funds are appropriated from the general edu 
cational funds, the greater part of which is contributed by 
the whites, while the churches are built by the negroes with 
the assistance of the whites. The school houses- of the 
negroes are simple and plain but usually comfortable with 
a seating capacity for nearly half of the negro children of 
the town. The crowded conditions in which negro children 
are often kept in school furnishes one of the most unsatis 
factory features of negro school conditions. Altogether 
school facilities for the negroes may be said to be about one- 
fourth as adequate as those for the whites. Still the neces 
sary equipment for the working of the school is increased in 
most cases as it is judiciously used by the negroes. The 
white board of education often finds it necessary to limit the 
negro schools in supplies, owing to the tendency toward 
unnecessary wastefulness. In most cases the negroes re 
ceive whatever facilities and appropriations are given them 
apparently with little interest, and they do not undertake to 
increase these facilities by their own efforts and contribu 
tions. Negro teachers are selected, salaries named and ap 
propriations made by the white board of education. The 
management of the school generally is supervised by the 
superintendent of the white schools. It is true, however, 
that many of the whites are careless and negligent in select 
ing teachers and in equipping schools, and the white super 
intendents, as a rule, show little interest in the work of the 
negro schools and teachers. 

There is an average of one teacher for every fifty to 
seventy-five pupils enrolled, and for every thirty to seventy 
in attendance. The principals of the schools, the majority 



2 g SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [332 

of whom are male teachers, are paid an average of forty- 
seven dollars a month; the assistants are paid an average 
of twenty-four dollars a month. The length of the school 
term is usually the same as for the whites. Tuition is free 
to all resident students of the town, and non-residents pay 
only during the months usually September, October and 
April when the public school fund is not distributed. In 
the majority of instances the school facilities and the num 
ber of teachers are reasonably adequate to meet the actual 
demands of the negroes, but there are numerous exceptions. 
A town in which the negro school enrolled two hundred and 
sixty-two pupils, with an average attendance of one hundred 
and forty-six, employed but two teachers. That is, for each 
teacher there were enrolled one hundred and thirty-one 
pupils and seventy-three were in actual attendance. The 
building, which was inadequate, was rented for the negroes 
by the whites. In a larger town there were enrolled five hun 
dred and seventy-five pupils, with an average attendance of 
three hundred and twenty; for this number six teachers 
were employed. Thus, there was an average enrollment of 
ninety-five pupils and an average attendance of fifty-three 
for each teacher. There were in the town seventeen hun 
dred and seventy-three enumerable negro children, or, for 
every teacher employed in the colored schools there were 
some three hundred pupils in the community. The prin 
cipal of this school received forty-five dollars a month, the 
first assistant thirty dollars, and the other four teachers 
twenty dollars a month each. With such averages of pay 
for the negro teachers, many do not earn their salaries when 
the value of their efforts is considered, while others earn 
more than double the amount they are paid. In all cases 
it is to be expected that such teachers would be of only 
ordinary ability and it is not surprising that the superin 
tendents of the white schools should express the opinion that 
the negro schools are not doing good work. 



333] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 2 g 

The average attendance of pupils is sixty-four per cent 
of the total enrollment. The highest average attendance 
found was eighty-three per cent and the lowest was forty- 
six per cent. These figures represent the average attend 
ance of the entire school for the whole year and are obtained 
from reports of the teachers, in which any part of a day is 
counted as a full day. It is apparent that in some cases 
the actual attendance is not so good as reported by tlje teach 
ers, but in many cases careful records are kept and the teach 
ers make out their reports with pride. Examinations of re 
ports for an entire year show that few pupils attend school 
with any degree of regularity. The enrollment for each 
month, although differing little in numbers, is not infre 
quently composed of almost entirely different pupils. Usu 
ally, however, there are a few pupils in each school who at 
tend for the greater number of days in each month in which 
they are enrolled. A few are not absent from school dur 
ing any days for several months; such pupils usually come 
from one or two families in the community, indicating 
that the head of the family is interested in the schooling of 
the children. They are the most neatly dressed pupils in 
the school and most attentive to their school duties. But 
the great majority of negro children attend school regularly 
only for the first few weeks after their enrollment, or for the 
first few days following the opening of a new term. Some 
days the teacher finds almost a full attendance while the 
very next day may witness the absence of nearly half of his 
pupils. Many negro children do not attend school at all. 
This irregularity of attendance and non-attendance is one 
of the chief obstacles in the way of effective teaching even 
where the teachers are good. 

Many men of the North and some Southerners have as 
sumed that the only reason for the lack of attendance on the 
part of negro children was a lack of equipment in the schools 



30 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [334 

and that thereby an injustice is being done the negro. They 
have not ascertained whether the negroes are using the op 
portunities given them, nor to what extent other causes 
operate in causing small and irregular attendance. It is 
important that an impartial inquiry be made. Inquiries 
among the whites produce little definite knowledge of the 
situation. The general opinion is that the negroes do not 
contribute means for their own education, do not use what 
facilities they have, and do not comprehend in any sense of 
the word the purpose of education. Inquiries and observa 
tions among the negroes reveal some of the prevalent causes 
for poor attendance. 1 It is the consensus of opinion among 

1 Something of the attitude of mind in which actual conditions are 
viewed by negro principals of schools may be learned from a study of 
the reasons assigned by them for poor attendance; likewise much 
may be learned of actual conditions. The following are exact 
quotations: "Parents indifferent to needs, hence cannot be reached." 
"A lack of appreciation of the value of an education on the 
part of the parents." " Parental indifference as to compelling 
children to attend, parents catering to whims of children." " False 
notions as to pride in dress." "Distance of house too far for 
smaller children." " Poverty." " Lack of interest." " Public school 
facilities not good." "Children work out as nurses, etc." "Ignorance 
on part of parents." " Only one house not large enough for all, in 
northern part of city." " I do not know the reason." " Leave school 
to work." " Poor school comforts and attractions." " Too small a 
number of teachers." " Indifference on the part of city officials." 
" Parents objection to proper school room rule enforcement." " The 
tendency of the age toward ease and superficiality." " Parents of chil 
dren take no interest in the schooling of their children, they seem to 
forget the main things or truths that will make a race out of the youth." 
" To a great extent our people do not see really the benefits of an 
education." " Parents who are totally ignorant fear that his child will 
be ruined by education." "A lack of interest on the part of school 
officers and teachers." " The town boy goes to school until he is 12 or 
14 and then he feels that a job can not do without him." " Some of my 
people have not yet learned the value of school privileges." " They 
would come, practically all of them, but I would not have a place to 
put them or extra teacher to teach them, as the appropriation is small 



335] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION ^ 

the majority of the best negro teachers that the greatest 
obstacle lies in the weakness of the race rather than in a 
lack of facilities. Thus one of the principals of a colored 
school analyzed the causes for unsatisfactory attendance: 

Many of our children don t attend school because we 
teachers are incompetent ; because many of the parents simply 
dislike their teachers; because some parents prefer Baptist 
teachers ; because many children have their own wyy about 
everything they do ; because many children do not like a strict 
teacher; because some parents contend for a fine brick building 
for the school; because as a whole many parents are too 
ignorant and niggardly and prejudiced and contentious to do 
anything aright. Yet we here have enrolled about one hundred 
and fifty pupils this session in spite of the Devil! 

Observations and studies seem to show that the causes just 
mentioned are the principal hindrances to efficient school 
work among the negroes. The limitations and ignorance^ i 
of the black man make the saddest story that is told in all / 
his life. There is no knowledge of the truth and no in 
terest in its teaching. With such ignorance there can be ; 
no proper conception of education or ideals to which the 

and space limited, we are crowded to death with the present situation." 
" Ignorant parents and inherited tendencies on the part of the chil 
dren." " Lack of incentives from surroundings seem to think little 
or no education is required to do what the colored people can get to 
do. Not more than one child in a hundred seems to want to be a 
preacher or teacher and think education is not needed to learn trades 
and few even desire to learn them." " Slothfulness and negligence on 
the part of the parents." " They do not want or desire to be brought 
under proper control." " Environment about the school house, no 
furniture, maps, desks, etc., as they should be." " Children becoming 
breadwinners on account of death of the father." " Few do not at 
tend some part of the nine months, they will come some part of the 
term." " My people are not prepared educationally, a large percentum 
of them, to know the real importance of education, for which reason- 
in my mind is the cause largely for their children not attending." 



32 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [336 

school should develop. Poverty and misguided conceptions 
of life, jealousy and distorted notions in general all com 
bine to keep the children away from school and from at 
tending regularly. Denominational prejudice and personal 
interest determine much of the teacher s popularity, and 
rarely, if ever, does the question of his equipment enter into 
the chief consideration. An example will illustrate: In a 
town where three teachers are employed in the colored 
school, a petition was signed and brought to the board of 
trustees in behalf of a candidate for the position of prin 
cipal. Three years previous to the circulating of the peti 
tion the negro whom the patrons wanted for principal had 
committed a murder a white man in the same town and 
was cleared in the courts on some technicality. He had been 
away from the town, but had returned and wanted the 
school ; his case, too, was a well-known one among the 
negroes and had attracted considerable attention. The good 
teacher, on the other hand, is not appreciated. The negroes 
further complain that they are not given proper facilities, 
and because they are displeased they refuse to make use of 
those which they have. They desire that everything be 
given them and wait for this end; yet they are not willing 
to improve or increase what has been given them. They 
show little pride in keeping the school buildings and grounds 
clean ; the houses and yards are not improved. Were 
the average community to devote the same kind of interest 
and energy that is given to church and lodge to the school, 
within a few years the negroes would find their interest in 
the schooling of their children increased many fold. This 
apparently is given little serious thought among the negroes. 
The average of intelligence among negro teachers in 
town and country is low, and their education is meagre. 
A small per cent have an accurate knowledge of spelling and 
reading and the simpler principles of Arithmetic. One may 



337] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 33 

read dozens of examination papers, handed in by negro 
teachers in vain to find one free from ridiculous blunders 
in the simplest spelling and usage. The prevailing ignor 
ance is nothing less than astonishing; and the condi 
tions would seem incredible were it not for the fact that 
the evidence is incontestable. Page after page could be 
filled with such evidence gleaned from the school room and 
examination papers of those upon whom rests the respon 
sibility of teaching the negro youth. The negro teacner has 
little reasoning power or depth of originality. There is 
little of the principle of honor among them they do not 
comprehend it. They do not regard cheating on examin 
ations for license to teach as a serious offence ; and whereas 
a white teacher discovered cheating on examination is dis 
qualified for teaching, the cheating of the negro is often 
countenanced. 

The colored teachers employed in the schools of the towns 
studied are of a much higher order than those just men 
tioned. The average of intelligence is higher; they are 
better educated and more earnest in their work. They have 
a broader conception of the needs of the children whom 
they are to teach. They have an honest purpose to serve 
well their people. It is doubtful if any worker among the 
negroes has more difficulties to overcome than has the 
negro teacher. He must fight day after day against ignor 
ance and superstition, himself a victim. He must struggle 
against prejudice and irregular support from parents and 
pupils. He must fight his way for the most part alone. 
He must face inadequate facilities and know that he is fail 
ing in his work as it is reflected in the great majority of his 
pupils. The earnest negro teacher is good in so far as he 
knows how to be. He often has false ideas of knowledge 
and education but it is because of false ideas in the race. 
And the negro preacher whose highest ambition is often to 



34 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [338 

preach with the " big words of the elements of knowledge " 
is responsible for a great part of this conception. The 
better negro teacher is the most honest and sincere leader 
to be found in all the race. Patient and persistent, earnest 
and honest, humble, yet sensitive to all interests of his peo 
ple, following the best guidance he has, often vainly seek 
ing for light, striving to increase his efficiency, conscientious 
in his work, and appreciative of all true co-operation and 
criticism this man deserves the highest tribute that can 
be given him. 

In the average school among the negroes there is a gen 
eral lack of order in the routine of daily teaching in the 
school room. There are many, however, which follow a 
definite schedule and are systematic as far as conditions will 
permit. The school often begins the day with order but 
ends in disorder ; a class is begun in an orderly way but often 
ends in confusion because of a lack of restraining power in 
teacher and pupil. There is much noise pupils moving 
their feet on the floor, moving from one desk or seat to an 
other, studying aloud, and consulting each other. Often 
the pupils must be permitted to study in an undertone, in 
asmuch as their motor habits of study scarcely permit them 
to study intelligently otherwise. During the winter months 
there is almost constant coughing because the children 
are continually affected with colds. Borrowing and lending 
books, asking the teacher questions, and various little irreg 
ularities keep the teacher busy at all moments. In the 
school room methods of discipline are not infrequently crude 
but often very effective; in several instances there has been 
a decided improvement in this respect. Those superinten 
dents of the white schools who carefully supervise the work 
of the colored teachers testify that, relatively speaking, the 
work done in the colored schools is good, notwithstanding 
the disorder. 



339 ] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION ^ 

The day in school is one full of interest to teacher and 
pupil. The company of pupils gathers in the morning but 
slowly. There is little uniformity in dress among the negro 
children ; for the most part the children are poorly dressed. 
But with all the varied attire and imperfectly, fitting gar 
ments, there can be seen in the dress of almost every child a 
hurried attempt at thoughtfulness. But there is less evidence 
of pride in the dress of the children than is the case w^th the 
older negroes. With this company of pupils ranging in age 
from six to fourteen the average negro school opens. The 
exercises are generally begun with prayer and song; many 
schools have song books which they use regularly. The 
children do not sing as heartily as would be expected, nor 
are they attracted by the music of the organ or piano to 
any great extent. The text books in the negro schools are the 
same as for the whites, and while most of the colored schools 
are not graded as are those of the whites, the graded books 
are used with the negro classes. The teacher follows his text 
closely, and " hears lessons " much after the old-fashioned 
way. The classes are well organized and are often divided 
into groups which recite as they are ready. Sometimes 
they compete in the daily recitations a method which the 
children enjoy. They are usually quick to criticise each 
other s work. When the work is over they are always 
eager for the recess hours and make no attempt to conceal 
their eagerness; when dismissed the children make a rush 
for the doors with much noise despite the fact that the 
teacher has carefully instructed them to march out in an 
orderly fashion. At recess they play games and are noisy 
and intent with their play. Besides regular " lessons " the 
schools are accustomed to have special exercises on Friday 
afternoons; these consist of spelling matches, "speaking" 
and similar methods of entertainment. At most of these 
exercises a few songs are sung by teachers and pupils. The 



36 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [340 

recitation or " speeches " are usually short, and consist of 
simple rhymes and sayings, or poems. They are often 
" funny " ; not infrequently they are very creditable to the 
children. There is much amusement in the audience while 
the children say their speeches. The spelling matches are 
conducted in the old-fashioned way; "sides" are chosen 
by the leaders, preference being given to the supposed best 
spellers. There is much noisy rivalry in these matches, and 
each side is clamoring to win. On such afternoons secre 
taries, critics, and other officers are appointed who often 
read interesting reports. Such entertainments are not en 
joyed by the patrons of the school; it is a rare occurrence 
for the school to be visited at any time by the patrons. The 
whites never visit the negro school. Consequently there is 
little known of what is being done in the colored schools 
except by the few superintendents who carefully oversee 
the work of the colored teachers. 

Negro children are easily interested, attentive, eager and 
alert. For the most part they are bright and learn easily. 
In many cases they appear brighter than white children of 
the same age. They learn from memory easily and retain 
little things for some length of time. Notable examples of 
this faculty exhibited to an unusual degree have been found 
in special cases. They are quick to learn simple phrases and 
rhymes ; they often remember entire songs and stanzas after 
having heard them a single time. Their wonderful capacity 
for thus learning is apparently explained by the fact that 
things heard in sequence cohere in the same order in the 
memory naturally. An example of this kind will illustrate : 
Four boys the oldest of whom was scarcely more than thir 
teen years of age recited in continuous order over two hun 
dred songs and rhymes, each of which was recognized by 
each of the boys. The reciting of one recalled another in 
rapid succession, and apparently they possessed an even 



341 ] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 37 

greater supply as they manifested no desire to stop, al 
though they seemed to know only the more or less indecent 
ones toward the last. Similar cases in which even younger 
children were involved might be given. The mind of the 
Negro is easily sensitive to sound, and words which are 
sounded in sequence, similar sounding words or words of 
alliterative sound are retained by the negro child. They 
are very fond of riddles stated in rhymes and takeylelight 
in remembering the answers to them. They learn readily to 
do things by imitation and become comparatively skilful in 
a short time. They remember names and faces well. How 
ever, there are many negro children who have an almost 
total lack of mental perception, whose minds are so dense 
that they can scarcely learn anything. The percentage of 
such cases increases with age. 

In the school room such qualities as have been mentioned 
are manifested in interest and attentiveness. Negro chil 
dren study diligently for short periods, and are quick to try 
to think. Exceptional cases of the extremes are more 
marked than among the whites. Reading, writing and 
simple arithmetic are readily learned by the negroes; spell 
ing is more difficult, perhaps because of their tendency to 
follow sound only. History in the simpler stories is easier 
for them than geography. In their language lessons they 
compose interesting sentences but they can not overcome 
their habits and forms of speech gained at home and the 
inherent tendency toward mingling thoughts to a degree 
that outruns the ability for any continued expression of 
separate ideas. They have vivid but general and vague 
imaginations; as far as they go they form mental images 
quickly. The brightest students are those from nine to 
thirteen years of age; the clearest minds seem to be found 
from ten to twelve years of age. Few are found over four 
teen years old who display any ability or clearness of mind 




38 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [342 

on the one hand, or any brightness on the other. Ex 
periments with negro children seem to show that the age 
of greatest brightness is later than that of greatest ability. 
By brightness is meant quickness and aptness in the doing 
and learning of simpler things ; by ability is meant the power 
to grasp and hold that which confronts the mind. In both 
boys and girls among the negroes the highest brightness 
seems to be thirteen years; the highest ability for boys was 
found to be eight years and for the girls nine years. With 
white children ability increases and brightness decreases 
with age. lAs a rule, after negro children become older 
than ten or twelve years, their development is physical 
rather than mental ; whatever of mental ability in the child 
gave promise of worth to be recognized in later years is 
crowded out by the coarser physical growthj In the small 
community few negro children over thirteen years of age 
attend school. It thus happens that with all the brightness 
and other good qualities of negro children, they attain little 
in the intellectual way beyond childhood. Even with better 
advantages offered, and under competent instruction in all 
cases, they would face tremendous odds. 

Before considering further the negro school and its 
work it will be well to note the condition of the child when 
he enters the school room. Reference has been made to the 
attitude of the parents in regard to sending the children to 
school. The teacher and child must cope with odds against 
which they are ill matched. Inherited tendency and en 
vironment of the race conditions constitute a powerful 
influence in the education of the negro child. Against these 
he must gain whatever of good he is to receive, and it is to 
help him overcome these that the best efforts and most care 
ful study should be put forth. In proportion as this can 
be done, to that degree will the next generation be stronger 
than the present. 



343] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 39 

Back of the child, and affecting him both directly and 
indirectly, are the characteristics of the race. The Negro 
has little home conscience or love of home, no local attach 
ment of the better sort. He does not know in many cases 
for months or years the whereabouts of his brother and 
sister or even parents, nor does he concern himself about 
their welfare. He has no pride of ancestry, and he is not 
influenced by the lives of great men. The Negro bfas few 
ideals and perhaps no lasting adherence to an aspiration to 
ward real worth. He has little conception of the meaning 
of virtue, truth, honor, manhood, integrity. He is shiftless, 
untidy, and indolent ; he would live " coolly in the shadow 
of his skin." The migratory or roving tendency seems to 
be a natural one to him, perhaps the outcome of an easy 
going indolence seeking freedom to indulge itself and seek 
ing to avoid all circumstances which would tend to restrict 
its freedom. The Negro shirks details and difficult tasks; 
he is incapable of turning his mind toward any other subject 
when once morbid curiosity holds his attention. He does 
not know the value of his word or the meaning of words in 
general. He utters phrases suited to his own fancy without 
regard to their meaning and forms conclusions in his mind 
which give him pleasure. He recognizes no causal relation 
between stability and prosperity, whether it be in reference 
to his local abode or his work. The Negro is improvident 
and extravagant; lazy rather than industrious, faithful in 
the performance of certain duties, without vindictiveness, he 
yet has a reasonable amount of physical endurance. But 
he lacks initiative; he is often dishonest and untruthful. 
He is over-religious and superstitious. The Negro suspects 
his own race and the white race as well; his mind does not 
conceive of faith in humanity he does not comprehend it. 

While for the most part negro children are cheerful, the 
older negroes are less so than formerly. Instead of the one- 



40 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [344 

time good-nature, a spirit of moroseness and sullenness is de 
veloping. Negro children are easily susceptible to all in 
fluences brought to bear upon them. It has been observed 
that the Negro is lacking in morals, so far as personal purity 
and chastity are concerned. All phases of indecent subjects 
are discussed in the presence of children. As a matter of 
fact, the prevalence of habitual immorality is understood by 
all the children grow up after the manner of the older 
ones, feeling that the situation is but a natural one. Take 
an illustration : " Uncle Tally " writing for a negro news 
paper published in a small community, has this to say : 

I have seen the time when it was a disgrace for a young 
girl to go out of the church at night alone, but you can see 
them do it now, but when a girl does it now the best people 
know that she is not straight and if they had half as much 
character as they had clothes on their back morality would 
reign supreme. I be dog my cats if I don t want to see the 
time come when I tip my old hat that I will be satisfied that I 
have tipped it to a lady but the way things are now I feel 
better satisfied when I tip my hat to a girl with a basket of 
clothes on her head than some of them with a fine hat on, 
because most of the time there is more virtue under the basket 
of clothes than there is under a fine hat. 

He continues about girls in "big meetings" sitting out with 
immoral young men and adds : " and hang me if some of 
them don t try to be school teachers." And many of them 
are school teachers. One of the crying weaknesses in the 
negro school is the lack of moral strength on the part of the 
women teachers. It is but natural that children accus 
tomed to gross immoralities at home and sometimes seeing 
indications of the same tendency on the part of the teach 
ers, should be greatly affected by it at school. Thus with 
mental stupidity and moral insensibility back of them the 



345 ] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 4I 

children are affected already in practice and thought, in 
deeds and in speech. Furthermore, they come to the 
teacher, as will subsequently be shown, having antipathy 
toward their own race and disappointed at " being a nigger/ 

When the conditions in the school room are seen in the 
light of actual conditions obtaining, they are easily under 
stood and little surprise is felt that the results have not been 
better. It is easily observed that these obstacles have 
not been overcome, but have rather set the bounds for the 
school s effectiveness. Because of this the growing gener 
ation of negroes is not superior to the negroes of a gener 
ation ago, as a race, rated according to religious and moral 
standing, and according to their economic value to the com 
munity. The schools do not appear to have improved with 
in the last decade nor do the results appear in so favorable 
a light as a few years ago. Much has been attempted but 
there are certain characteristics of the young so-called edu 
cated negroes which work great harm to the race. It is true 
that as far as actual mental illiteracy is concerned, a great 
deal has been done, but it seems that the whole current of 
mental improvement has reached unhappy results. 

The young educated negroes are not a force for good in 
the community but for evil. The Negro quickly outgrows 
the influence and control of his instructors; especially has 
this been noted in cases where the whites have taught them. 
These young negroes are not in sympathy with their par 
ents ; they appear to neglect them more than those who are 
not " educated." They feel that manual labor is beneath 
their dignity ; they are fitted to do no other. They sneer at 
the idea of work, and they thus spread dissatisfaction among 
the members of their race. They imitate the whites and be 
lieve themselves thereby similar to them. They love only 
the show of apparent results and do not care for the details 
of attainment. They have not rejected vicious practices in 



42 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [346 

their own lives nor condemned them in theory; on the con 
trary they have chosen to practice them and to condone the 
vices which are increasing in the race to its rapid deteriora 
tion. They uphold immorality and wish to ostracize any 
who assist the white man contrary to their own notions, 
thinking all the while that they are manifesting a spirit of 
race loyalty. It is clear that their moral natures are miser 
ably perverted. Such a statement should not be interpreted 
as abusing the Negro; for, considering the putrid moral 
air he breathes and that there is no light to nourish his spirit 
ual instincts, there could be no other outcome. Despite the 
excuse, however, the facts remain unchanged. The negro 
schools taught under present conditions have not produced 
the desired results; conducted according to the white man s 
own methods they have been unsatisfactory. Even in those 
schools which have been given ample equipment and have 
employed the younger educated negroes at better salaries, 
the results do not appear to be lasting; but it is in the ac 
quirement of modern superficial methods wrongly applied 
that they seem to surpass. 

The problem is indeed perplexing, and from the view 
point of the Negro the way must appear a difficult one. 
Many remedies have been offered and many methods sug 
gested for the attainment of better results. Some of these 
may be noted. Ex-Governor Jelks of Alabama has sug 
gested that Southern white men should teach the negro 
schools. To this there are such serious objections that it 
would appear to be inpracticable. In the first place, the 
negroes offer serious objections; their objection is thus 
stated in a leading editorial of one of the negro church 
papers : 

Governor Jelks of Alabama, in his article on the school 
question and in discussing Negro education in particular, is 



347] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 43 

very careful to suggest that only white men should teach in 
these schools. This raises a very fine point from our stand 
point, namely, this unless there is a very careful selection of 
white men the Negro would have great hesitancy in entrusting 
his children, particularly the girls, to their care. Not all white 
men of the South, but a very large percentage, are very bold 
in asserting that the Negro women cannot be chaste and vir 
tuous, and hence they are open to desperate attacks from a 
source that ought to be helpful. White men of the South have 
opened themselves too largely to criticism to at once be ushered 
into unquestioned leadership of the intellectual, moral and reli 
gious life of the Negro in the South. Governor Jelks s keen 
and decided drawing the line raises the question and since it 
is raised let it be met in all fairness. Do Southern men respect 
us enough in our race life and in our hopes for the future? 
Can our children be entrusted to them ? 

The negroes would object further because it would deprive 
their best educated men and women of the field of labor 
which they think they can most effectively occupy. They 
would object to being robbed of an occupation. Besides the 
objections offered by the negroes there are additional rea 
sons why such a plan is impracticable. The Southern white 
man is unwilling to teach in these schools. As conditions 
are now, most boards of trustees are careless in selecting 
teachers for negro schools. With the present supply and 
the existing prospect for a future supply of white teachers 
the negro schools would get only inferior men. And none but 
the best equipped in training, endurance, and moral stamina 
could ever teach faithfully and efficiently in a negro school. 
The average Southern white teacher is not prepared to 
teach negro children. Certainly there will not be, even for 
generations, thirty thousand such men. 

It has been suggested that only Southern white women 
can effectually teach in negro schools. And it is doubtless 



44 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [348 

true that they could teach them quite successfully. But 
under the present relations between the races, nothing would 
seem more improbable than such an undertaking. It has 
been suggested by both whites and blacks that agricultural 
and mechanical schools should be established for the negroes. 
It has been suggested again that half of the curriculum be 
given over to industrial studies. Military discipline has 
been advocated as the best way to direct the education of the 
Negro youth; strict methods of discipline in many forms 
have been suggested as a sufficient corrective of the evil 
conditions. The kindergarten system has been urged for 
the development early in life of manual dexterity. While 
these systems have much to commend them, is it probable 
that they will be adopted? If adopted, has the negro at 
present a sufficient foundation for effective results? In the 
light of the whole situation and in connection with the many 
proposed plans, the following observations are offered. 

It is clear that, at least for some time to come, the Negro 
must have his own teachers in the school room. The school 
is the only place where a change of home life can be af 
fected to any marked degree and where moral, physical and 
hygienic education can be obtained. This must necessarily 
take more than a generation. And it must be begun by the 
negroes under the supervision of the white man. It is 
furthermore true that the negro teacher should have means 
and methods for his use which are specially adapted to the 
proper training of his children, and he should have the care 
ful co-operation and supervision of the whites. There are 
certain conditions which must be met by the negroes which 
do not obtain among the whites; and it is but just that white 
supervision, recognizing this difference, should better adapt 
means needed for the colored teacher s use. Here are chil 
dren who must cope with tremendous odds in inherited ten 
dencies and environment. They are different in every par- 



349 ] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 45 

ticular from the white children; the basis on which their edu 
cation must rest is different from that of the white children. 
And yet under white supervision, they are given the same 
books, the same methods and the same grade of methods, 
and are required to learn as the white children do. The 
Negro is condemned because he thinks himself the white 
man s equal, and still we say to his children : You must use 
the same methods and the same degree of perseverance if 
you are to get anything out of school. It is complained that 
they learn too much, and it is complained that they can not 
learn at all and are incapable of receiving an education. In 
each case the Negro is compared with the whites. The 
logic of the situation is all wrong; the methods would ap 
pear to be wrong. In addition to the fact that the children 
of the two races have lived under such different educative in 
fluences and therefore need different matter and methods, 
the text books used in the first grade are especially suited 
to the whites and not suited to the negroes. To illustrate, 
turn through the pages of the first and second or third grade 
readers used by negro children in the schools. Such books 
are used for reader, spelling book, for writing exercises, and 
they often use no other text. The pages are illustrated 
with pictures in colors, and in every case where persons are 
involved they are pictures of white boys and girls with rosy 
cheeks and pretty features. These children have toys and 
pets and comforts, and all that luxury without labor could 
demand. The simple stories are of these boys and girls at 
play, of their dolls and toys and friends. The stories are 
varied, and are illustrated with the view to interesting chil 
dren; and properly so. But what is the state of interest 
with which the negro child reads of things which are not his 
and can never be ? Or what must be the recoil to his feel 
ings when eagerly enjoying the scenes, his imagination has 
transported him into that wholly ideal life, he suddenly re- 



46 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [350 

members that it is only the white boys and girls that he reads 
of and that nothing of his own life is mentioned, and that he 
can not be like the white child ? Certain it is that the bright 
mind of the child conceives some idea, and there can be but 
one result in his mind, even though it may sometimes be in 
definite. Is it surprising that the negro child, as he gets the 
daily -lesson, begins to wish that he were white, or is it 
surprising that the new world which dawns upon the 
brighter negro children is a wrong conception of life? Is 
it surprising that the girl cherishes and fondles, as with some 
motherly instinct, the white doll and refuses to have aught 
to do with a black doll? It is little surprising that early in 
life these children begin to aspire naturally to be like the 
whites and that they seek every opportunity to gain any 
similar traits or appearances. They do this whether they 
attend school or remain at home it is unfortunate that the 
school should be a means for cultivating this tendency. 
Again, is it surprising that the older negro boys, already af 
fected with criminal impulses, begin to formulate those 
malignant and voluptuous thoughts which turn to criminal 
aspirations ? 

The negro teachers, as they follow the text book closely, 
can but long for the beauty and light which is pictured in 
the more favored life of the whites, naturally making it an 
ideal for his pupils. The current feeling among the chil 
dren as well as older negroes is well illustrated by the con 
solation offered by a negro teacher to one of her pupils : 
" You write so sorrowfully about being a negro. My dear 
Dulce brown skin and kinky hair are nothing to distress 
you; the trouble lies much deeper than that. If you were 
a little pale faced, yellow haired girl, and all the rich, well- 
educated people about you had brown skin; if those who 
rode in carriages and autos had kinky hair; if the dominant, 
cultured, successful race were Negroes, you would long to 



351] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 47 

be a Negro also, brown skin, kinky hair and all. It is a 
matter of education, morality and money; and just as soon 
as the majority of negroes acquire these, the question of 
color will begin to drop out. Are you doing what you can 
to hasten that day?" The idea among all classes of negroes 
teachers and pupils is monstrously wrong. For the 
most part they seek only to be like the whites rather than 
to obtain the qualities which make the white man superior. 
The question of color will not drop out. On th other 
hand, the Negro is encouraged in imitating the white man 
and then abused because he does it; we expect him to imi 
tate the good in the stronger race and not the bad. We 
give the white children lessons which we desire to be in 
centives to learning, culture, and high ideals; when the 
Negro reads the same lessons, if he should aspire to the 
same ideals, he is accused of being criminal. Perhaps he 
can not aspire; he imitates. 

The suggestion made here is that the text books of the first 
years for the negroes should be very different from those 
of the white children. It is hoped that the suggestion will 
merit serious consideration and to this end brief explana 
tion is given. No outline of the proposed books will be 
given here but the general plan may be indicated. New 
text books are desirable for two main reasons : First, books 
are needed which are especially suited to the negroes as a 
race, to develop the negro child within his race. The 
second may be stated more fully: Text books are needed 
which are especially adapted to the negro mind, texts based 
on the most accurate and sympathetic knowledge of the 
characteristics of the Negro, which comprehend the pecu 
liar needs of negro children, which are carefully planned 
and graded to teach the things fundamental in their proper 
education. It is essential that details be taught from the 
very beginning, and by constant drill the habit of doing 



4 8 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [352 

things with accuracy be forced. The constant repetition 
of little things, done in order, might overcome much of the 
tendency in the Negro for carelessness and instability. But 
if any such results are to be hoped for, they must be ob 
tained before the pupil goes beyond fourteen years of age; 
here the physical brain in the Negro reaches its maturity, 
and nearly all that can be done for a generation must be 
done by methods suited to the children. 

(i) Let the influences upon the negro child, at least so 
far as the school is able to effect this end, lead him toward 
the unquestioning acceptance of the fact that his is a differ 
ent race from the white, and properly so; that it always has 
been and always will be; that it is not a discredit not to be 
able to do as the whites, and that it is not necessarily a 
credit to imitate the life of the white man. Let him not 
measure his work by the white child s achievement. If 
there were no impossible fancies of being like the whites, or 
the constant thought of being below them, slight progress 
might bring the teacher and pupil to some consciousness of 
the degraded condition of their race. Let the negro chil 
dren read stories of pioneer days, and of those who have 
worked their way up through the years ; let such lessons be 
designed to teach that labor is honorable and idleness de 
grading. He may learn from reading stories of Africa how 
much better off he is than his cousins. Let him read stories 
of his own people, of whom there are hundreds of stories 
told of fidelity to duty and trust ; stories of little homes with 
the family, and what attractions are possible for the clean 
negro home; of neat cottages and houses, descriptions of 
rooms and yards ; of cleanliness and its necessity ; of every 
day life and what to do in the home, of fresh air and sun 
light stories of health and happiness, of labor and honor, 
of things interesting in the telling, but of vital import as 
they pertain to the everyday life of the children themselves. 



NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 49 

Then there should be many nature stories, of animals and 
crops, of planting and growing seed, of birds and country 
life. Simple rhymes and poems specially chosen for the 
purpose would be inserted at frequent intervals all of which 
could be arranged with proper illustrations and the same 
pedagogical principles of teaching the reading, writing and 
spelling. This would have its positive value and it would 
have its negative value. While the negro child \tf inter 
ested in his own matters he will not be incited to wish for 
the white man s conditions of life or for his nature. Until 
some such methods have placed the negro child on a firm 
basis, the Negro can never achieve permanent results in his 
civilization. 

(2) Little experiments in the school room indicate that 
it is almost impossible for the negro child to do anything 
with continuous accuracy. The scorning of details is 
clearly seen in the habits of the children. For instance, if, 
after careful instructions, the child is given the task of 
drawing ten straight lines, two, three or four, will be well 
drawn, while the others will be carelessly done. This ten 
dency may not be overcome in a, short while ; but the negro 
child learns to do little things easily, and, when made to do 
so, can do them well. The one fundamental need, then, 
of the child is constant drill ; nothing will take its place. 

Exercises for facilitating the teaching might be offered 
at the end of the several chapters or lessons in the text books. 
With the reading lessons squares or other figures should 
illustrate the story and the child should be required to draw 
these figures ; with examples in arithmetic, exercises in draw 
ing parallel and perpendicular lines and adding them, or 
similar exercises, would be given constantly. Notes at the 
end of each lesson might assist the teacher in enforcing ac 
curacy and effectively teaching the lessons. Again, after a 
story, the note might suggest that the pupil read aloud the 



50 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [354 

lesson at home; so with a lesson on hygiene, instructions 
for simple exercises at home or at school might be given. 
In all instances they should be repeated often enough in 
the proper way for the child to recognize a practical appli 
cation. If the negro home standard is to be raised it must 
be through the child. Nothing short of constant drill and 
the habitual performing of details can ever make good 
home keepers of negro girls. In all exercises the methods 
should be reasonable; the negro child needs simpler exer 
cises than does the white child. However, each should be 
designed with a special purpose in view. Negroes are 
rarely open to reason ; here they need to see things in their 
details rather than in the total appearance. They need to 
learn the real meaning of a few words rather than the 
sound of many. Boys and girls who are sent to the board 
to write sentences illustrating the meaning and use of com 
mon words like are, the, boy, girl, compose many sentences 
containing admonitions as to boys and girls stealing, telling 
lies, and similar sins. And yet they manifest no practical 
knowledge whatever of the meaning of the words; they 
think of the sound of the words and the entire sentence and 
of a pictured favorable impression made upon the teacher, 
or their own sense of " oughtness " and what they know to 
be the right sentiment. So it is with right and wrong, 
heaven and hell, and other words commonly used by negro 
children. Here again this method may help to resurrect 
the conscience of the Negro and move his intellect, and if it 
is possible to eradicate the criminal tendencies, it can best 
be begun in the school room. Special passages selected 
from the Bible and placed in the back of the book for morn 
ing reading or home reading might greatly assist in teach 
ing the scriptures to the negroes, and perhaps in time, moral 
principles would be inculcated. Such exercises as have been 
mentioned, with suggestions for improving the school 



355 ] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 5I 

grounds and keeping the building clean, would not only be 
effective in results upon the children, but also in the dis 
cipline and management of the school. 

It will be objected that the above plan is theoretical and 
in the practical test would fail of results. No one, however, 
would claim that it would be less effective than present 
methods and it would imply only the ordinary change 
brought about by the adoption of text books. It wotffld, be 
sides meeting the needs of the negro children already men 
tioned, meet the requirements of superintendents of white 
schools who have indicated in their reports the defects of 
the school work among the negroes. Furthermore, the 
negro teacher follows his book closely and as a rule teaches 
what is found in it. He can be depended upon to do so in 
this case. The simple exercises because of their newness 
would be of interest to the teacher, and it is probable that 
the average teacher would find pleasure in preparing each 
lesson, and the pupil look forward to each new exercise. 
This change would put new life into the work and new inter 
est into the teacher s field of labor. Like the children, he 
would reap benefit. It will be objected that the Negro 
will protest against such a change; it is assumed, however, 
that the illustrations and contents of the books would be 
judiciously chosen with the view of pleasing the children 
and at the same time instructing them. Many negro teach 
ers are willing to affirm that they approve of the plan. It 
would, of course, be impracticable to require separate texts 
for negroes above the grammar grades ; but it is only in the 
formative period, when the pupil will be in the elementary 
subjects, that special texts are needed. Students whose 
ability and ambition carry them into advanced studies will 
most likely be intelligent enough to understand their posi 
tion. Such a change in elementary studies would not be 
cutting off the Negro s present advantages but an essential 



52 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [356 

aid in preparing him for better things. If the plan is 
properly interpreted no negro leader who aspires for his 
race to reach the best results will offer objections. There 
should be no objection on the part of the whites if they de 
sire the negro to be trained for usefulness. 

The great obstacle in the way of the Negro s industrial 
efficiency as well as in his mental and moral character is his 
lack of sustained application and constructive conduct. 
Such a state of being is, however, but natural to a people 
of the Negro s temperament. He easily responds to all 
stimuli and is controlled, therefore, by present impulses, 
which leads to almost complete lack of restraint. The pleas 
urable yielding to impulses in the breaking-down of restraint 
and in the habit of non-exertion make the negro very in 
active on the one hand, and the carrying of pleasurable re 
sponses to an extreme exhausts and degenerates his vital 
powers, on the other. The negro is therefore weak in so 
cial and self control and in self-direction, and has little 
capacity for sustained control of any sort. With such a 
predilection and predisposition the Negro does not lend him 
self to the development of deep and permanent qualities 
through the working-out of essential processes. Through 
habituation, facility, inheritance and temperament, there 
fore, the Negro is superficial and irresponsible. It is easily 
seen, then, that in order to help the Negro most effectively 
not only the content of his mind must be improved but also 
his mode of applying the intellect and feelings must be 
changed. If the Negro has latent powers they can be de 
veloped and retained only through some such processes as 
have been suggested, together with selection. Even if the 
various methods should be adopted, or any parts of the 
many plans already suggested for the education of the 
negroes should be carried out, the elementary branches must 
still be taught. Efficiency in application is the first essential 



357] NEGRO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION 53 

to any permanent results. Such specially adapted methods 
would greatly facilitate matters as well as assist in making 
a proper beginning. Uniformity would be had, as now, by 
the adoption of satisfactory texts, edited and selected with 
special care, and the cost of books would not have to be 
increased. 

A careful study of the Negro s habits and traits of life 
will reveal the extent to which the facts just related^pply. 
In connection with such a plan as has been suggested there 
is need of some method by which regularity of attendance 
may be had, otherwise the basic principle of the method 
would be thwarted. Some regulation is needed whereby 
compulsory attendance is required, not for any specific num 
ber of months, but for the time during which the pupil is 
enrolled. The work of the negro schools should have the 
co-operation and interest of the whites of the same com 
munity. Furthermore, supervision by white teachers of 
ability is absolutely essential for the present. Many negro 
teachers have been known to put new life into their work 
and new interest in their schools because white men have 
shown a real and practical interest in the work. The 
negroes thus reap both the benefit that comes from white 
supervision and the encouragement offered by others who 
work in similar fields of endeavor. A careful consideration 
of this phase of their duties is earnestly asked of school 
superintendents throughout the Southern States. The 
negro can be assisted in obtaining a substantial training 
easier than he can be given a superficial education. 



CHAPTER II 
THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 

THE Church has been called the central point around 
which all negro life revolves. It is certainly a great influ 
ence in the life of the negroes and furnishes them with the 
greater part of their better life and the outlet for much of 
their energy. The function of the negro Church is rather 
to give expression and satisfaction to social and religious 
emotions than to direct moral conduct. The Negro is well- 
known for his religious nature and the richness of his ex 
periences. The question has often been raised whether or 
not the Church could be used effectively to assist the Negro 
in overcoming his weaknesses. What the possibilities may 
be and what the Negro s needs are can best be known 
through a study of the Negro s churches and church life. 
Such a study should reveal the main facts concerning negro 
churches, membership and attendance, church services and 
methods of worship, religious feelings and beliefs, the moral 
qualities of the negroes, and the relations existing between 
the white church and the negro church. In this chapter 
the effort is made to present and interpret in a discriminat 
ing way such facts. The results of the concrete experi 
ments made by the whites among the negroes are especially 
significant in their bearing upon the entire question of negro 
religion and life. 

There are among the negroes in the South church organi 
zations in the following denominations: Baptist, African 
Methodist Episcopal, Colored Methodist Episcopal, African 
54 [358 



359] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 55 

Methodist Episcopal Zion, and Methodist Episcopal. In 
some of the states there are a few organizations and churches 
among the Congregationalists, Colored Cumberland Pres 
byterians and African Union Methodist Protestant, with a 
small number of special or " sanctified " organizations. The 
white Presbyterians of the United States have established 
a number of churches among the negroes and exercise a 
supervision over them. The Protestant Episcopal ^Church 
has many communicants throughout the South. The 
Churches most commonly found among the negroes in the 
South are the Baptist, Methodist Episcopal, African 
Methodist Episcopal, and Colored Methodist Episcopal, 
known generally as the Baptist, the M. E., the A. M. E., and 
the C. M. E., respectively. Most communities have more 
than one church, generally three or four. Where only two 
churches are found, one is commonly a Baptist and the other 
some form of the Methodist. There are, however, more or 
ganizations among the Baptists than among all others com 
bined. 

Negro churches are usually located in or near the negro 
sections of the town. If there are communities of negroes 
segregated in two or more parts of the town, the churches 
are accordingly not infrequently located in different negro 
divisions. If there are, for example, four negro churches, 
three will perhaps be located in the same vicinity and the 
fourth on the opposite side of town, or two will be located 
together and the others in a separate section each. The 
negroes exercise much care and judgment in selecting and 
obtaining lots upon which to build their churches so that the 
locations of the negro churches compare favorably with 
those of the white churches. Through the industry and 
energy of the negroes and the co-operation of the whites the 
church and parsonage are often located in most desirable 
parts of the town. The church edifices, too, reveal con- 



56 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [360 

siderable industry and pride. Measured by the property 
owned by the negroes and by other ordinary standards, the 
negro churches are, thus relatively speaking, far superior 
to those of the whites. The whites, however, assist the 
negroes in many private ways and contributions. In one 
place, at least, namely in his church, the Negro does not 
suffer by comparison. The exterior of such churches pre 
sents a pleasing appearance. Most churches are con 
structed of wood, are painted, have a simple but creditable 
steeple, and the windows are usually of stained or painted 
glass. The interior is comfortably and neatly furnished 
with substantial pews, pulpit furniture, an organ, and a 
bookcase for church and Sunday-school supplies. As a rule 
the church is kept neat and clean to a reasonable degree and 
much pride is manifested in the keeping of the church. The 
bell is an important part of the church building, since it 
appeals to the negroes with unusual force and serves to 
remind them of church hours. The externals of the negro 
church, the building, the bell, the equipment and furnishings 
are pre-eminent in the Negro s thoughts for the success of 
his Church. These and successful collections are causes for 
the heartiest congratulation. There are, however, quite a 
percentage of negro churches which reflect little pride and 
thrift. Many are poorly equipped because of lack of funds 
and poorly kept because of lack of interest and pride. A 
neat but poor building does not appeal to the majority of 
negro worshipers; it then represents only a place to meet, 
and the same habits of filth and carelessness are found as 
in other activities of the Negro s life. Taken as a whole, 
the average value of the churches studied with their prop 
erties is $2710.00. Each church receives, in addition to the 
names of the town in which it is located, also a special name, 
e. g., Woodville Grace M. E., Thompson Bethlehem Baptist,. 
Jackson St. Paul A. M. E., and other scriptural names. 



3 6i] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 57 

The membership of negro churches is large, although it is 
scarcely more than sixty per cent as large as the total mem 
bership of the fraternal orders in some communities where 
the Lodge has been well organized. The average member 
ship of the churches studied was one hundred and ninety 
eight. The average in the Southern States was only one 
hundred and twenty at the time of the last census and for 
the entire United States the average for the negro Churches 
was only one hundred and fourteen. The smaller average, 
on the whole, is due to the fact that many negro churches 
are situated in localities where the colored population is 
small. Thus when several denominations have organiza 
tions in small communities, the membership for each must 
be small. The churches studied, then, represent the more 
prosperous churches. Of their membership some two-thirds 
are female and one-third male. In many cases the percent 
age of males is smaller, ranging from one-tenth to one-half. 
About fifteen per cent of the membership are over fifty 
years of age and only about five per cent under twenty 
years. Perhaps most of the church members co-operate in 
church services and fifty per cent are willing to lead pray 
ers. From two to four church papers are read in each 
congregation. Although superficial in many respects, such 
papers are well conducted on the whole and are enthusiastic 
in their reports and suggestions. Each church has from 
two to six church societies and benevolent associations of 
which the women constitute the greater part of the member 
ship. The churches pay their pastors an average salary of 
$469.00 a year, with such other assistance and hospitality 
as he may receive. The highest formal salary paid any pas 
tor was $900.00. The churches pay liberally toward gen 
eral collections and are assessed for missions and other items 
an average of seventy-eight dollars; some were assessed 
from three to four hundred dollars. 



58 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [362 

Religious services and church activities mean much to the 
Negro. The question has been raised whether the Lodge is 
not supplanting the Church in a marked degree and hinder 
ing its work. Many colored preachers openly hold that the 
Lodge is coming to be an evil because of its interference 
with the work of the Church. Of this something will be 
said subsequently. However this may be, it still remains 
that the negroes have many church services, and that they 
are often well attended. The regular church services are: 
preaching in the morning and evening, Sunday-school, class 
meetings, prayer-meetings, business meetings, together with 
the meetings of the missionary societies and benefit associa 
tions. To these must be added protracted meetings and 
church conventions or conferences. There are also, in con 
nection with the churches, funerals and public baptizings, 
which are also well attended. The Sunday-schools are for 
the most part conducted in the morning before preaching. 1 
The church societies, the membership of which is chiefly wo 
men, meet in the afternoons. 

The average attendance at Sunday-school is not large, 
being perhaps one-fifth of the total church membership. 
The attendance at the morning preaching is good; most 
negroes attend church on Sunday, though many, instead 
of going to church, visit their friends in which cases they do 
not " dress up ". The morning service at the church is con 
ducted along the usual lines according to denomination and 
local custom. In those churches where regular choirs are 
provided, special music is rendered, and the congregation 
does not take a prominent part in the singing; where less 
effort is made to procure special music, appointed leaders 

1 This is apparently well suited to the afternoon plans of the negroes ; 
it leaves the afternoon free for strolling, sitting around uptown or 
elsewhere. It also assists in gathering the morning congregation, 
which is ordinarily slow. 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 59 

conduct the singing, and the congregation joins in all the 
songs. The worship is prolonged to a later hour than 
among the whites. The best attendance upon church exer 
cises is at the evening sermon. Before the time arrives for 
the services to begin, small groups gather at near-by houses, 
often at the parsonage; other groups, composed of only 
men, gather around the church. They talk here at length 
until the church has been lighted, and a few ha*e begun 
the preliminaries with singing. The groups then begin to 
wend their way toward the church; those about the doors 
begin to enter and the congregation is thus made up rapidly. 
However, stragglers come in and go out of the building at 
intervals during the entire service. The preaching begins 
twenty to forty minutes later than in the white churches. 
The order of service is: Singing, prayer many songs and 
a number of prayers, the reading of the scripture lesson, 
and sermon by the preacher, prayer and singing, collection, 
benediction. The singing is usually begun by lay-leaders 
who conduct the prayer and song service; this gives oppor 
tunity for a larger number of members to take an active 
part in the worship. After the preliminaries the pastor 
takes charge of the service until the sermon is finished; he 
generally turns the remaining part of the meeting over to 
one of the leaders who is sitting by him on the rostrum. 
Sometimes, however, the preacher himself continues through 
the meeting, and where special collections are to be made, 
he announces the purpose for which the collection is made 
and urges the full payment. Many announcements of a 
general nature, too, are made at the close of the service. 
The benediction is pronounced with much unction and the 
negroes are off. 

The weekly prayer-meetings are held on Tuesday, Wed 
nesday. Thursday or Friday night ; the effort is made not to 



60 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [364 

have the meetings of the different churches conflict. 1 
Church services begin at eight or eight-thirty o clock in 
summer earlier in winter; the hour is placed late in order 
that any whose duties keep them may attend. However, 
the attendance at prayer-meeting is not large, varying in the 
different churches, the average being from five to twenty- 
five. This attendance is smaller than formerly, owing 
partly to the fact that some of the lodges meet at the same 
time. As a rule, men are in the majority at the mid-week 
meetings ; most of the older men attend. The pastor is not 
always present at the prayer-meeting, though it is his cus 
tom to attend. Sometimes he conducts the service or makes 
a talk. More generally the service is conducted by an ap 
pointed leader ; the hour is spent in singing and praying and 
talks from the members present ; the service is an impressive 
one. The leader " lines " each song and all respond in the 
singing; at those services where only a few are present, the 
leader calls on each one for prayer, and it often happens that 
every person present, man and woman, has led in prayer 
before the service is concluded; some have prayed more 
than once. Their prayers are very appropriate for the oc 
casion. There is no hurry, and the meeting extends to a 
late hour ; often a group of five or ten remain singing, pray 
ing, and talking until eleven o clock; after service they ask 
after each other s " folks ". In some localities the prayer 
meeting is well attended and often takes the form of a re 
vival, but conducted on the general lines mentioned. 

1 The negroes almost invariably leave their own churches if unusual 
attractions are going on at a neighboring church ; the chief drawing 
card being that of the protracted meeting in its advanced stages. A 
Baptist preacher remarked dryly, but with a touch of humor, to the 
handful gathered: "Well, we couldn t expect many to be here tonight; 
the big meeting over at the A. M. E. and a presiding elder at the 
C. M. E." 



3 6 5] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION fa 

Those churches which hold regular class meetings have 
additional features of worship. The preliminaries to these 
meetings are very similar to those mentioned ; sometimes the 
choir practices songs for the Sunday morning worship. As 
a rule the class meetings are well attended; old and young 
attend, with slightly more women than men. An appointed 
leader conducts the devotional exercises in which he reads 
a passage from the Bible and makes a short talk. y\fter the 
devotional exercises the leaders take charge of their classes, 
the number of classes varying from five to twenty according 
to the membership of the church. Such classes occupy sec 
tions in various parts of the church; those occupying seats 
in a section belong respectively to the class numbered for 
that section, though it is customary for the classes to have 
a certain number of regular members. Not infrequently 
the leaders are absent and others must be appointed to take 
their places ; these leaders are chosen from among the best 
church members : as a rule they are good " workers " in the 
church. The leader of a class is accustomed to approach 
members of his division and ascertain by questioning what 
is the spiritual condition of each; the method is effective. 
After talking for a short while the leader takes the hand 
of the one to whom he is talking and continues his interro 
gation until he is satisfied with the response given. He 
talks of the soul s salvation; he warns and instructs; he 
often pleads it is his personal work. Here, too, the 
negroes ask for prayer and guidance to the " Solid Rock ". 
and exchange experiences. No sooner does a newcomer 
enter the building than he is approached by one of the 
leaders, who immediately engages him in conversation. 
The young fellows often smile when first approached; but 
the leader is not at all taken aback. Soon the youngsters 
are seen to become restless and a more serious expression 
comes over their faces; and so anxious are they to escape 



62 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [366 

so direct an appeal that they often give the desired assur 
ance to the leader, who threatens that God will punish them 
in this world and in the world to come. Such results are 
not without their wholesome effect. While all this is go 
ing on in the various parts of the church, some of those who 
are not actively engaged in the work keep up the singing, 
so that the personal work may be done more effectively. 
Sometimes after the leaders are through with their classes, 
they exchange experiences ; "happy" times often follow. The 
secretary then calls for reports from the various classes, in 
cluding reports of the number present and the collection 
taken. The total report by classes is then read. The col 
lections are usually creditable. When the report is finished 
they sing a song or two and are dismissed. Though there 
is much form and superficiality of expression in the class 
meeting, permanent results are apparently achieved. 

The four general subjects under which worship and 
church services among the negroes may further be described 
are: Songs and music, prayers, preaching, and collections. 
Of the negro church songs a part are selected from the re 
gular denominational song books, not unlike those sung by 
white congregations, and a part are more or less peculiarly 
adapted to the negroes. Many of the latter consist of a 
general mingling of the words and music of several songs ; 
some are local in their origin and usage. The negro-folk 
songs and spirituals are still popular for church music. 
Both the singing of the songs and the matter contained in 
the stanzas are significant. In addition to the tune in which 
the songs are written, the Negro always puts his own music 
into the singing, and his own interpretation into the words. 
This together with the " feeling-attitude " which is uncon 
sciously his, and the satisfaction which he obtains from the 
singing of his songs, puts church music among the negroes 
into a class of its own. 



367] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 63 

Church services are opened with song; a leader will oc 
cupy his place at a central table or chair, select a song, and 
begin to sing. Others join in, and the crowd begins to 
gather. This leader usually lines each hymn aloud, reading 
two lines, then singing. By " lining " the songs is meant 
the careful reading of the lines, so that the audience may 
get the words and join in the singing. With the negroes 
this is naturally a favorite method. The leader often puts 
as much " music-appeal " into the reading of the songs as 
he does in his singing and praying. The rhythmical, swing 
ing reading adds zest to the singing which is to follow, and 
secures co-operation, not only from those who have books 
and can read, but also from others who catch up the lines. 
Most of the negroes who take part in the regular services 
know all the common hymns, provided they are given a start 
by the leader. At prayer-meeting, the leader continues 
lining the songs throughout the service; at preaching the 
preacher reads the regular hymns, while the leaders start the 
singing. In the class meetings, while the leaders are en 
gaged with their classes, now a woman on this side, now a 
man or woman on the other begins the song, and others 
join in; the singing is conducted similarly while collections 
are being made. The process is the same with all a leader 
begins to sing another joins in then another and another 
until gradually all are singing. A much greater percent 
age of negroes who attend church sing than among the 
white people; there are however many negroes who do not 
sing regularly; this is not because they can not sing the 
songs but rather because they are not disposed to take part 
in the singing, preferring rather to remain quiet. The 
negroes are proverbial for their good singing. 1 A group 

1 See American Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, vol. 
3, p. 277 seq. 



64 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [-568 

of five negroes singing in a church will produce a volume 
of song which would appear on the outside to be the equiva 
lent of thirty or forty voices in a white church. One can 
hardly appreciate the singing of the negroes at church until 
he has heard on a quiet Sunday evening from some position, 
say on a hill, the singing of four negro congregations, each 
clearly audible. It would appear to be the unrestrained out 
burst of ten thousand souls, or the rhythmical expression 
of deep human longing and feeling. Inside the church, one 
may watch the leaders as they line the hymns, and listen 
to their rich, tremulous voices; he may see the others re 
spond and hear the music of each peculiar voice. The lead 
er s voice apparently betrays great emotion as he reads the 
lines, and as *he begins to sing. He appears literally to 
drink-in the inspiration from these songs, and his soul seems 
to be filled to overflowing as he sings the words telling of 
grace and redemption. However, he manifests the same 
emotion when he sings one song as he does when he sings 
another ; the same emotion when he reads the words wrongly 
as when he has read them correctly; it makes little differ 
ence to him. He is consumed with the music and the state 
of feeling which singing brings to him. He enjoys singing 
to the fullest extent ; and after all, perhaps one feeling domi 
nates his whole being, and there can be no song to him 
which does not accord with this. 

A full analysis of the music of negro church singing in its 
details would be worthy of the efforts of anyone who could 
describe it. A few details apparently characteristic in his 
sacred music may be noted : The singing begins slowly and 
with time-honored regularity; the effect made by voices 
joining in successively is agreeable. With tenor and bass 
and varied voices, the chorus-like song is pleasing and satis 
fying. Many times the singers begin as if they would sing 
the simple tune to which the song is written. But in a short 



369] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 65 

time, apparently unable to resist the impulse to give their 
feelings full sway, their voices fall into that rhythmical 
swing peculiar to the negroes, and all measures alike become 
stately. They continue in this strain until the song is fin 
ished. Most negroes are proud of a good choir because it 
represents a step toward a model which they seek to follow ; 
but they do not like the choir s singing so well as they love 
their own. The Negro s song will characterize hi/ natural 
self wherever he hears it sung or himself sings; he is loath 
to give it up. Many pastors affirm that so far as they know 
not a single member of their congregation refuses to sing. 
Observation, however, shows that many of the younger 
negroes do not take part in the religious songs; many who 
sing do not appear to enter fully into the spirit of the old- 
time singing. There are, however, many individual young 
negroes who enter heartily into all the services, the singing 
especially; their singing mingled with that of the older 
ones adds greatly to the total effect. 

The pastors do not seem to agree as to the favorite songs 
sung by the negroes in their worship. Inquiry elsewhere, 
and observations show that there are a number of favorites 
which are regularly sung, and that favorite themes are com 
mon, mostly noticeable in the prayer-meetings and evening 
services. One may attend week after week and hear the 
same songs ; the negroes know these and love to sing them. 
As of old they enjoy singing of Heaven and rest where 
luxury and ease abound and where Sabbaths have no end. 
They love to sing the praises of the Deliverer who shall free 
them from life s toils ; they have learned the " good old " 
songs and have placed new feeling into them and a different 
interpretation. The meaning of the words and the senti 
ment of the songs are transcended by the expression in the 
singing. The accustomed manner together with the re 
sponsive feeling absorb whatever attitude of pure devotion 



66 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [370 

might exist. Of the hymns, the songs, " There is a Foun 
tain Filled with Blood ", " How Sweet the Name of Jesus 
Sounds in a Believer s Ear ", " Show Pity, Lord, O Lord 
Forgive ", " O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing my Great 
Redeemer s Praise ", and the others, may be heard ; others 
not so common are sung as favorites for the simple reason 
that these folks have learned to sing and love them. The 
Negro looks always to some future state for happiness, and 
sings with peculiar faith the common lines : " We ve seen 
our foes before us flee ", " We ve seen the timid lose their 
fears", " We ve seen the prisoners burst their chains", 
" We ve seen the guilty lose their stains ". Likewise they 
sing of an eternal rest and of a Sabbath that " ne er shall 
end ". Such songs appeal to the Negro s idea of the fitness 
of worship and accord, as well, with the ideal of rhythmical 
perfection expressed in music and the feeling of the wor 
shiper. 

In addition to the standard favorite hymns there are 
many folk-songs and spirituals which are especially pleasing 
and appropriate for most negro congregations. Indeed 
many of the old spirituals are still popular among the ne 
groes and take the place of the church hymns. Negro 
preachers, in addition to the fact that they themselves en 
joy such songs, take advantage of their peculiar power to 
sway the feelings of the negroes into accustomed channels. 
These are the Negro s own songs and set forth the peculiar 
expression of his being; they are, moreover, beautiful, child 
like, simple and plaintive. Some of the old songs are sung 
often with little modifications; others are mixed with new 
and old songs, taking on new forms and meanings, but 
clearly the product of the negro singers. 1 Perhaps the mass 
of negro worshipers prefer the old songs to the hymns of 

1 Op. cit., passim. 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 67 

the churches, for in them is found the truest expression of 
nature and life as they are reflected in the Negro of to 
day. They are not the expression of complex life but of 
simple longing. They set forth the more simple thoughts of 
an imaginative and emotional worship. They magnify the 
personal and spectacular in religion. They satisfy the love 
of melody, crude poetry and sonorous language. Simple 
thought is expressed in simple rhyming phrases. Repeti 
tion of similar thoughts and a single chorus, with simple and 
pleasing music lending itself to harmonious expression, are 
characteristic. The music is specially adapted to the chorus- 
like singing which is produced by the informal carrying of 
many parts by the singers. A single leader is often re 
quired while a swelling chorus of voices take up the refrain. 
As " shoutin sings " and " runnin speerichils " they are 
well suited to protracted meetings and " good feelin ". 
Throughout the narrative style, the inconsequential, dis 
jointed statements, the simple thought and fastidious 
rhymes, the music of the songs tend to take into it the 
qualities of the Negro s native expression strains minor 
and sad in general expression. With the idea gained from 
the music of the songs must be joined the church scenes and 
personalities freely mingled with the music. The preach 
ing, praying, singing, shouting, swaying and the unity of 
negro worship perfection of rhythmic sing-song, together 
with the throbbing impulses of the people make the negro 
music what it is. Thus it happens that, for the most part, 
all religious songs become spirituals and easily merge into 
satisfying melodies when the occasion demands. Likewise 
the negroes reach their climax in fervent outbursts alike in 
all songs that lend themselves to a free expression. 

Negro church music is beautiful and impressive. The 
prayers uttered by negroes at church may be similarly de 
scribed ; moreover they are pathetic and eloquent. As the 



68 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [372 

Negro is very much of a religious being, so he appears to be 
specially fitted by nature and cultivation for making appeals 
to divine power. A large per cent of the negroes love to 
pray in public; some pastors testify that all will pray on 
most occasions when called upon, while others affirm that a 
majority would do so. In some of the larger towns only a 
small number are reported as willing leaders. It is true, 
at any rate, that those who are called upon, both men and 
women, usually respond. Passing over the well-worded 
and deliberate utterances of a few more modern preachers 
and leaders, the prayer which is common to the great mass 
of negro churchmen the natural prayer may be de 
scribed. Such prayers are ordinarily appropriate and earn 
est; the manner is full of appeal and reverence. They are, 
for the most part, well worded and uttered ; there is seldom 
hesitancy and faltering in the negro prayer. Nowhere is 
the rich voice of the black man more manifest than in the 
pathetic tone in which he utters his appeals. It would ap 
pear to be the voice of a penitent child and grateful servant 
crying out to the Father and Master in a darkness pene 
trated only by a single ray of light. However, the same 
tremor and pathetic eloquence is heard in a slight petition 
as in a more sorrowful invocation. Again the one attitude 
is made up of an expectant manner and general feeling. 

Reduced to its particulars the negro s prayer is very 
formal. There are three general parts, and two general 
tones are noticeable as a characteristic utterance. The 
manner and tone of the first and third parts are the same; 
the first part is the introduction and consists of chosen 
phrases uttered in a low and deliberate tone. The second 
part consists of the rising fervor and climax, in which part 
is the body of the prayer. This is uttered sometimes in 
tones of most pathetic appeal; sometimes the voice of the 
speaker trembles as if he were too full of emotional con- 



373] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION (^ 

flicts for further utterance. Sometimes often the words 
are beautifully eloquent. More often the body of the 
prayer is a mean between two extremes musical and rhy 
thmical, it yet has the typical swing. The third part, which 
is the close of the petition, is an abrupt change of voice. 
There is no falling action to the negro prayer ; from highly 
pathetic appeal to calm and deliberate utterance, the prayer 
is changed as quickly as the voice can possibly be altered. 
The effect is impressive. A characteristic of these prayers 
is the frequent repetition of some appellation of the Divinity; 
of such expressions the negroes have many. The petitions, 
too, are many ; they pray for those who are absent from ser 
vice, and for those who are " away in foreign lands ", by 
which is often meant in a neighboring town or county or 
state; they pray for "sinners", for "gamblers", for 
" drunkards ", and for " dancin women ". They pray, too, 
for the sick, the widows and the orphans. There is much 
repetition in their prayers. The special features and char 
acteristics of the negro prayer are illustrated by the ex 
amples given below. The body of the prayer, which is in 
toned, is written in italics. The first and last of the prayer 
are uttered in the most impressive and deliberate manner 
which the negro can command with slow and subdued tones. 
" O Lord, to night our Fadder, we thank thee for the pri 
vileges which thou has promised us to engage in this hour 
for the express purpose of having us to worship thee with 
reverent prayer. Most holy Fadder, besides thee we know 
no other name whereby we can be saved. Most holy God, 
our Fadder, our Fadder, you have said in yo } most holy 
an written word that where one or two or three o 3 yo 
belicvin servants come togedder you would be in de midst 
of yo } chilluns. And Oh, Oh, Jesus, we ask you to come 
into this little sembly an endow us with thy spirit. We se 
but frail creatures an evil; we doan feel worthy o } callin 



70 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [374 

on you to night, our heavenly Father, we doan feel 
worthy o calliri on thee, but we ask you to night to come 
into our midst. O Lord, bless them that s not here, hover 
round them the arm o } protection. We ask you to bless the 
sinner to night an 3 the gambler an we ask you to bless the 
dancin women. We thank thee to night, our Fadder, that 
las night we did not lay down on de bed o death an wake 
up this mornin in the mornin o judgment. my Lord, 
wouldst thou be pleased to remind me that tomorrow the 
sun may rise on my grave. An Lord wouldst thou be 
pleased to bless yo servant to night who s been waitin 
so long. Oh, oh, my Lord, thou divine an heavenly Father, 
God of the world an tender love, please hear yo servant 
to night. Oh, oh, my Lord, sometimes we try to weep but 
we can t weep; come down to night an weep wid us; O 
Lord, to night, our Fadder, sometimes we try to sing an we 
can t sing; come down to night, our Fadder, an sing wid 
us 

" Now, our Fadder, when we done toilin , when we done 
meetin , when we done minglin here, when we don t tend 
no mo meetin s, when we se done comin to dis ole church 
save our souls is the petition of yo humble servant, for 
Chris sake Amen." 

The word music of parts of the prayer is given on page 
71 ; to the tones of the notes must be added the peculiarities 
of each voice and the rhythmical pathos expressed. 




OF THE 

UNIVERSI 

Or 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 
RECITATIVE. 



Most ho - ly God our Fad - der, our Fad - der, you 



I 



g= r 



-IN 4- 






have said in yo most ho - ly an writ - ten word 



that where one or two or three or four 



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be - liev - in serv-ants come to - ge - der you would 



m 



be in de midst of yo chil - uns ; And oh, o h 




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sus we ask you to come in - to 






this lit- le sem-bly an en-dow us with Thy Spir - it. 

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VA/ Six 

Oh, oh, 



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rd, Thou di - vine an 



EJ^^^EESE 
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heav n-ly Fad- der, God of the world an ten -der love, 






p- 1-e-a-s- e heah yo serv - ant to - night. 



72 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [376 




Hi 






Oh, oh, m y Lo 



Some-times we 



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to weep, but we can t weep; Come down 



r=T3: 






night, our Fad - der, an weep wid us. 



ry~ IN 


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Some -times we try to sing, but we can t sing; 













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Come down to - night, our Fad-der, an sing wid us. 



A woman prayed in most pathetic tones : " Oh oh Lord, 
to night, bless the basterin child, wherever he is; Oh oh 
Lord, bless my mother s children scattered in foreign 
lands; Oh oh Lord, bless my sister s children to night. 
Oh oh Lord, you knows my heart an you knows I wants 
to do right; Oh oh my Lord, my spirit s strong but my 
flesh is weak Oh oh Lord, give me clean hands an clean 
heart, an Oh oh Lord, you has blessed me befo when I 
prayed an you has promised to bless me ag in if I come in 
de right spirit, an Oh oh Lord, to night bless me; an 
you has promised to have mercy on yo chilluns an it does 
seem like we need mercy over the Ian to night. ..." A 
more pathetic appeal can scarcely be imagined; so are the 
majority of the prayers commonly heard at the prayer 
meetings. 

The Negro also utters prayers which have less of the 



377] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 73 

plaintive appeal in them; they are less eloquent, though the 
negroes call them " eloquent " prayers. They are more 
declamatory and are uttered with much satisfaction. In 
all the negro prayers, the audience enters into the spirit of 
the occasion ; while the leader is praying, many others assist 
by their fervent sanctions. In the prayers, as in the ser 
mons, there are many " amens " uttered by both men and 
women. To each sentence, petition or marked utterance, 
there are many cries of amen, grant it Lord, Lord help us, 
and the like. Together with the prayer they assist in mak 
ing rhythmic harmony. Sometimes, after the leader has 
finished his prayer, he begins a song and all remain kneeling 
or bowed while they chant the melody or tune in a low 
monotone-like manner. With lips closed they hum the 
tune most effectively ; with its rise and fall the chant adds to 
the perfection of rhythmical feeling and is most beautiful in 
itself. 

The negroes are good rjreachers. The majority of the 
older negroes, and many of the younger ones are able ex 
pounders of moral rights and wrongs. It is not surprising 
that there are many " exhorters " and local preachers among 
them, nor that their preachers preach with great vigor. 
Many of the sermons preached by the negroes are good, giv 
ing out wholesome advice. Many are severe in their de 
nunciation of sin and crime; many preachers are under 
stood by their hearers to speak in a more or less incen 
diary vein. But there is less concern at this point with the 
matter of the sermon than with the methods used by the 
preachers and the manner of delivery, with the part the ser 
mon plays in the unit of negro worship. The college- 
trained preachers deliver many of their sermons, for the 
most part, after the manner of the ordinary white preacher; 
they often strive to effect a similar delivery. Such ser 
mons are not infrequently appropriated, in part or alto- 



74 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [378 

gether from written sermons. Such negro preachers are 
very graceful in the pulpit and bestow great pains upon the 
manner in which they are to deliver their sermons. Ex 
cept during protracted meetings, and on special occasions, 
their manner of preaching is not unlike that of the average 
speaker, except that matter is made subordinate to manner, 
There are many attempts at humor, most of which are suc 
cessful in their way; the negroes laugh at every opportun 
ity. Many of the preachers, too, are eloquent speakers. - 

But the average preacher conforms to no rules other than 
those of natural impulse and time-honored custom. Should 
he memorize a sermon and attempt to deliver it in a deliber 
ate manner, he would find such a difficult feat. After the 
prayers and songs, he too is in a state of fervor and in 
most cases he abandons the set phrases and turns into 
his own line of thought and expression. It thus happens 
that the average sermon preached to the negroes has a pleas 
ing effect upon the congregation and receives a hearty re 
sponse. In fact, the sermon would be expected to conform 
to the songs and prayers as a logical sequence. Such must 
be the case in order to meet the demands of the congregation 
and to satisfy the preacher s own inclination. The sermon 
is composed of two general parts : the deliberate utterance, 
and the swinging, rhythmic delivery and climax. The man 
ner of the first part characterizes the beginning of the ser 
mon ; the preacher announces his text, begins his discourse, 
and gradually rises to the personal appeal. The second part 
embodies the greater part of the sermon ; in this the preacher 
reaches the climax in " true poetic height ", and in regular 
sing-song, he approaches musical recitative. Again, in the 
opening words of each topical division, the deliberate man 
ner is used ; while in the climax of each division he reaches 
the same height of sing-song. Sometimes the words are in 
distinct, and the attention of both speaker and hearers is 



379] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 75 

absorbed in the " preachin ". Sometimes with rhythm of 
words and swaying of body the preacher holds his audience 
spell-bound, while they in turn lean forward, sometimes 
rocking to and fro to the time of the preacher s voice. They 
agree with everything the preacher says without pausing to 
ascertain the truth of his utterance. He often repeats a 
part of his sermon a number of times, the audience nodding 
their approval and uttering shouts of assent with g/owing 
enthusiasm. The negro preacher receives a respectful hear 
ing, and his audience is always responsive. While he pro 
claims the words of his message there may be heard on all 
sides cries of: " Talk to em, preacher", "Great God", 
"Ha, Ha", "You re right, brother", "Yes?", "Yes- 
yes ", " Preachin ", " Preachin , now "> " Now you re 
preachin ", "Talk about it", " Talkin ", "Holy Lord", 
"Truth", "God grant it", "Good Lord, that s right", 
" Lord help us ", " Preach de word ", " Dat s so ", "Amen ", 
" ain t de Lawd a-talkin ", and many others. Mingled with 
such exclamations are frequent grunts, the sound of which 
could scarcely be reproduced; it would be recognized as 
"huh" pronounced with a nasal twang, now low, now high. 
The exclamations may be heard whether an old-time preacher 
occupies the pulpit, or a more modern one, or even a white 
minister. Negro preachers do not discourage this, but on 
the contrary they often defend it, saying that they " b lieve 
in advertisiir religion when you ve got it ". The exclama 
tions increase as the fervor of the preacher rises ; the utter 
ance of these exclamations is very satisfying and greatly 
assists the preacher. Such responsive exclamations serve 
to complete the current of rhythm when the preacher must 
pause, or to stress those rising notes which his own voice 
emphasizes. 1 

1 If we wish to balance the two factors, we may place the tones of 



76 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [380 

The characteristic tones of the sing-song heard in the 
preaching and the expressions of responses uttered by the 
" lay " members are almost reproducible in musical nota 
tion. An example of a common type of sermon heard among 
the negroes is given below. The preacher was a graduate 
of one of the colored theological colleges; in his sermon 
to a large audience, he began with a very dignified manner 
and made a most favorable impression upon his hearers. 
One would think that he is going to avoid the old-time style ; 
but it will be seen that he reaches a high poetic pitch, though 
slightly different from the extreme sing-song and dramatic 
utterances of the more primitive negro preacher. He is ar 
rayed in a black robe and as he speaks of the " wings of the 
morning " he uses his arms with the flowing sleeves for 
splendid effect; this pleases both the audience and himself, 
for he repeats the gesture with satisfaction. The sermon is 
supplemented richly with the shouts of "amen." The musi 
cal notation of sermon and exclamations follows. 

the preacher on one side and the exclamations of response from the 
audience on the other. Or again, if we liken the sing-song to a series 
of metrical verses in which each verse has one or more caesural pauses 
and the end of each line is catalectic or incomplete, the exclamations 
may be said to occupy the time taken up by the pauses and to rhythmi 
cally connect each line or verse without loss of continuity, time or har 
mony. Were the metrical scheme completed, other exclamations would 
serve as stress or ictus in ascending and descending measures. Thus 
neither is complete without the other still they must and do go on at 
the same time. Though monotonous, and to some extent almost un 
bearable to some sensitive ears, after the first few times of hearing 
it, such worship is nevertheless an almost perfect harmony of rhythm. 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 



77 



RECITATIVE. 

A 



-i I- I i TT1 1 T^ 

r W * t +>-\-~ ^ -j^3 



Yes, my breth-er -in, we ve been troub-led with the sin-ner 



1 -- 1 I | 

j j =^ 



long e-nuf;then at the great Judg-ment day, we ll 



see them all sent off to hell and there ll be re-joic-in 






t=3=5t 



for we won t be troub - led with them an - y 




mo ; We ve prayed for em an we talked with em an now we 



I 






won t be both-er-ed with them an - y mo . Oh, with the 






wings of the morn-ing, I d fly to that heav n- ly home. 



zz 



Preachin . 



Yes, my Lo-rd. 



Yes, yes. 



Ha, ha. 



78 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [382 

At the close of a service in which there had been a num 
ber of penitents at the altar, an officer who had been sitting 
on the rostrum came to the front, and with his broadest grin 
and most polite manner, said : " The Lawd s done been 
here, I knows he has " ; and he added, " done come an 
gone away an now we wants to get down to business I 
wants some money." In this action he characterized his 
church more than he was aware. For, as a rule, the collec 
tion occupies the most important place in the total of church 
activities. Collections made by negroes are marvels; they 
represent a great part of the strivings of negro church 
members ; it is not surprising that they represent much satis 
faction. The church collections fall into two general divis 
ions : those taken in the church itself at regular services, 
and those made outside by means of various methods. The 
collections made at class meetings have been mentioned; in 
a similar manner they take collections at Sunday-school. 
Other methods may be described. 

No church has been found which does not use the "table" 
way of taking, up collections in the church. This method 
is used for raising money for incidentals, and all miscel 
laneous collections called for from time to time. A table is 
placed in the front part of the church ; after the other exer 
cises are over a secretary and " counter " take their places 
by the table. The leader announces at length the purpose 
for which the collection is being made. One by one the 
negroes bring their contributions and place them on the 
table. They do not hurry; they do not come in groups. 
One would judge at the beginning of such a collection that 
no one would respond, and that the collection would be 
a complete failure. While this delay is going on, the 
preacher or leader urges his cause effectively, and others 
sing. Presently one will bring a small coin, place it on 
the table, and return to his place. Then another, and an- 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 79 

other until several dollars have been received. A single 
individual will often " go up " six or seven times during one 
collection, giving a nickel each time. Negroes usually give 
the last cent they have with them. The men often give their 
coins to the women who in turn carry them forward as their 
contribution. The women enjoy this, and the young fel 
lows vie with each other in furnishing their favorites with 
money. The husband must furnish his wife as muc^ as he 
can obtain ; much more than he can afford. Negro women 
have been known to spend half the wages of the husband 
in contributions to the church and various societies. It is 
the woman s great desire to appear to give more than any 
one else. The negroes love to display their finery before 
the congregation; it thus happens that a negro will have a 
quarter dollar changed into nickels and give it in this form. 
Apparently they all have a mania for handling money in 
small pieces. It is thus that their money is raised and the 
amounts raised are surprisingly large. The time occupied 
in taking these collections varies from thirty minutes to an 
hour and a half. The ease and grace with which the 
speaker urges more money is a part of the exercise; flattery 
and pleasing speeches are scarcely to be surpassed. The ne 
groes look forward from week to week to the collection and 
direct their labors and savings to this end. Young ne 
groes aften seek work for a few hours in order that they 
may get money for this purpose, after which they may not 
be persuaded to work again. Some negroes have urged 
that the table way of taking all common collections ought 
to be discontinued; but such a question has not become 
an issue. A class-leader s remark fell with little effect 
when he said : " The Lord ain t pleased with our collection. 
We ought to bring our contributions to the class meetin 
and give them quietly ; but my people wants to walk up here 
Sunday an show off theirselves anyway we makes mo 



80 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [384 

contributions to the devil than we does to the church of the 
Good Lord." Many admit that they would prefer other 
methods to be used but to stop the table way would mean 
absolute failure in meeting assessments and demands for 
money. 

To raise money for building and repairing churches, and 
for general and miscellaneous purposes, where larger 
amounts are wanted, the negroes have many methods. The 
banquet, torch-light supper, box supper, feast and reception, 
are described elsewhere. 1 Such entertainments are always 
successful in that they succeed in raising money. The aver 
age negro will not be without the price of admission if he 
can get the money which he generally does. Concerts, 
too, are frequent, in which many take part reading, re 
citing or singing, purely under the auspices of the church; 
after the program is finished they serve refreshments. 
Musical and literary entertainments are given as often as a 
program can be arranged. If an unusually good one is to 
be given, circulars are scattered over the town and tickets 
circulated among the people. On the circular, tickets, and 
printed programs full announcement will be made, with 
exaggerated enthusiasm. 

This brings the crowd, and the entertainment is often 
a worthy one. Many seek to enjoy the program from the 
outside. Perhaps the windows have been closed and the 
house crowded. After the exercises, the preacher may an 
nounce that he regrets that the room has been so warm but 
" we wanted all we paid for and we didn t want those who 
did not pay to get any, and anyway, just in a moment you 
can all get to the ice box and cool off." This has the de 
sired effect, and when the ices are served the crowd buys 
liberally, remaining late in the evening. It is a great so- 

1 See Chapter VI. 



385] 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 



8l 



cial event, but it is not uncommon for the negroes to clear 
more than a hundred dollars at such an entertainment. 
They look forward with much anticipation to the coming 
of such a concert. Their attitude toward such occasions 
is well illustrated by the excuses given by some negro wo 
men who refused to work during the day preceding the con 
cert, saying : " I wants to git ready for the musical ; I 
wants my money s wuth, I does." 

When larger amounts are to be raised still other methods 
are devised. A favorite method will be described: Clubs 
are organized having captains at the head of each, who 
solicit money from all sources; each captain in turn ap 
points subworkers and seeks the honor of reporting the larg 
est amount at the final counting. Individuals then solicit 
funds not only from the negroes but from the whites; they 
report to their favorite captain. Cards are gotten out for 
distribution among the workers. An example: 



Club No Mrs Captain 

M is authorized 

to solicit funds for the Bethlehem Baptist Church 
Ralley to be returned th 5th Sunday June 30th 1907 
Please help us God will bless the cheerful giver 



5555555555555555555555555 
5555555555555555555555555 

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 IO IO 10 IO IO 10 
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 IO 10 10 IO IO 10 10 IO 

25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 
50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 ioo ioo ioo 

A. D. SMITH, Pastor 



The amount given is checked off on the card and when the 



82 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [386 

first card has been exhausted, another is taken. Thus each 
individual co-worker has his or her name and the amount ob 
tained handed in, while the captain reports her total amount 
by cards. The above card was used by the congregation of 
a Baptist church having less than two hundred members; 
they, raised in a short time seven hundred and fifty dollars. 

One other method may be mentioned ; this illustrates well 
an underlying principle and spirit of giving among the ne 
groes. A representative from one of the church colleges 
recently preached from town to town, speaking to large au 
diences. Before closing his services he announced that a 
special collection would be made at a specified time " three 
weeks from to-day." He announced further that their col 
lege had now paid every cent of its mortgage, a copy of 
which he had in his possession. He would present this 
mortgage to that person who should bring the largest 
amount of money at the stated time. This person is to 
burn the mortgage in the presence of many people. He 
adds : " Be a hero among your people ; let s see now Avho 
will get this mortgage and destroy it and thus go down in 
history as a hero to your people." 

It will be seen that all church functions and services are 
agreeable to the negro s nature. The church satisfies as 
much as anything else his social wants, and relieves his 
psycho-physical cravings. His worship is music to his soul, 
whether it be in the word-music of prayers and sermon, or 
in the natural music of his song, or in the rhythm of all com 
bined. It is all freedom from restraint, and the gratification 
of impulse, and the experience of sustained languor. Al 
though the Negro expends a great deal of energy in his re 
ligious devotions, it is nevertheless resting to him. He ap 
pears to manifest the same tendency and principle as one 
who is tired, or grieved, and finds no relief so immediate as 
giving way to feeling, loud singing, or crying out; or as 



387] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION go 

one of weak mind constantly whistles or sings regardless of 
words or tune. What the negro thinks to be total confes 
sion and contrite submission has a very soothing effect 
upon him; the songs are even more satisfying to his nature. 
Many older negroes may be seen with heads resting back 
ward sometimes forward and their eyes closed as they 
sing vigorously their favorite songs. Their senses are all 
turned toward the perception of one attitude, and fcsides 
a wonderful tranquillity of feeling, they also see visions. 
The Negro is at ease and can give expression to his feel 
ings among his fellows without hindrance and interruption, 
and without incentive to action. Is it surprising, then, that 
after a day s hard work, while he has passed the hours away 
in emptiness or misguided thinking or perverted notions, 
that he finds sweet rest in some melodious songs and 
rhythmic verses as he rests his body in the pew? Is it sur 
prising that he does not want to leave until a late hour, when 
he has little to attract him to his home, where he must 
begin again to think of work which is disagreeable to him? 
Is it to be expected of him that he would desire to hasten 
when he can stay here in the crowd and listen to songs and 
sing, hear and offer petitions in which he feels some kind of 
communion with the mysterious? Likewise it is little sur 
prising that the attitude of the negroes is often one of list 
less apathy when they have finished their worship. 

The protracted meetings of the negroes, church confer 
ences, and baptizings are yet to be mentioned. No attempt 
will be made to describe them in every particular. The re 
vival services held during the protracted meeting may be 
said to be a series of meetings like those already mentioned, 
except that they are carried to a greater extreme. There 
is more preaching, more praying, and more singing, and 
with it all more shouting and perfect unity of negro worship 
perfection of rhythmic sing-song as it is found in the re- 



84 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [388 

ligious services of the negroes. There are many altar ser 
vices; " propositions " are popular at least they are numer 
ous among the colored people, though they do not always 
easily respond to an appeal. At the altar there is much 
manifestation of concern, though it is doubtful if there 
is much of real salvation. At these meetings, too, there 
is much shouting during which those who have become 
" happy " must be " held down." This is done in various 
ways, for instance, by one negro standing directly in front 
of the one who is shouting and placing his hands firmly upon 
his shoulders. He thus holds him as he attempts to jump 
up; presently one will see the spectacle of two jumping in 
stead of one first the one leaping into the air, then the 
other, both shouting all the while. Other manifestations 
are evident; crying, laughing, and general exuberance are 
accompanied by general movements of the body. 1 Many 
negroes testify that not infrequently these occasions are 
used for personal abuse by those who are evil-minded, or 
those who have " malice in their hearts ". It may take the 
form of slapping or running into each other violently; in 
the case of women, " accidentally " using a hat pin or sit 
ting on the new hat of a " sister ". No attempt will be 
made to describe their trances, though there is much of 
reality in them to the negroes. 2 The penitents are not al- 

1 One may observe a negro congregation thus wrought up with some 
satisfaction from a distance, provided the windows be raised. Men 
and women move to and fro, their bodies swaying backward and 
forward; arms are seen waving, and with all this comes the rhythm of 
sound songs, shouts, and preaching. Inside the observer notices more 
of the individual performances. 

2 The nature of the " trance " may be indicated by the use of extreme 
examples : During a meeting of much fervor, a woman is smitten 
down and suddenly topples over on the floor, apparently uncon 
scious. Nothing the negroes do will restore her and she must bide 
her time usually from twelve to twenty hours. Another woman 



389] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 5 

ways converted during the church service; many times the 
" spirit comes upon them " wherever they may be, at work 
or variously occupied in either case they begin to shout, 
and all who are in hearing distance and who can possibly 
get off come running to hear the " experience ". The 
preachers, too, take prominent parts in such meetings. They 
encourage undue manifestations and go to various extremes ; 
they often profess great power and revelation. 1 Sefme of 
the preachers are sincere in their misinterpretation of the 
scriptures ; many are not. During these " big meetins 
services sometimes begin at daybreak and continue through 
the day and in the evening till midnight ; the same is some 
times true of the church conventions. One who lives near 
a church in which such meetings are being held will often 
wake up in the morning at the sound of the negroes singing ; 
and the last sound which he hears at night will be the songs 
of these same singers. The meetings are well attended and 

suddenly leaped into the air and rushed out of the building; after 
searching for some time she was found in a ditch in a nearby grove, 
apparently unconscious. 

1 Recently during one of the great negro revivals in a small town, 
the report became current that the preacher and some who had been 
converted had received the gift of tongues and could speak the mes 
sage of the spirit in many languages and could commune directly with 
God. This report was generally believed by the negroes. Investiga 
tions brought out these facts : The preacher would begin his sermon 
as usual, but would presently raise his eyes heavenward and begin in 
gutteral tones something like this : Lub-dub-a-bub-a-gud-a-lub, etc. 
This inspired great awe throughout the congregation and he was draw 
ing great numbers. Further inquiries into the life of the negro 
preacher proved that his allies were instructed in the business ; the 
preacher had already amassed considerable property by his own 
methods; he had just built a fine church in the town. He received this 
latest " revelation " in California where he had attended some meet 
ings. A few years previous the same negro had preached the easily 
received doctrine that it was no harm to " pick up " anything one 
wanted, for it was not stealing. 



86 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [390 

here may be seen many " distinguished " looking negroes. 
The delegates and preachers are well dressed and talk and 
walk with much dignity. As many as can do so speak at 
the meetings ; they have at the night services many " big " 
sermons preached by a divine " who can speak in seven lan 
guages ", who has " traveled all over the world ", or who 
is a D. D. The communities show much cordiality to the 
visitors and all enjoy life for the week. The welcome ad 
dresses read on these occasions are elaborate, but reflect 
much of the negroes disposition. 1 

The negroes flock in large numbers to witness the pub 
lic baptizings, whether few or many are to be immersed. 
They prefer the stream or pond of water, and use artificial 
pools rarely. They desire to be baptized " like Christ was 
baptized " after which the " spirit comes upon " them. The 
applicants for baptism are assembled; the preacher is ready 
and leads the first one into the water. To one who has 
not witnessed these cermonies, the question will arise as to 
why several attendants wade out with the participants. One 
is not kept in doubt long, however, for as soon as the can 
didate has been immersed, he or she begins to struggle, 
beating the water right and left, and four men are kept busy 
holding the newly inspired applicant. It is understood that 
each one is to have a similar experience, though all are not 
effected in so extreme a manner. 

Any comment on the religious views and moral code of 
the negroes must begin with mention of the negro preacher ; 
he is perhaps responsible for much of present conditions. 
The greatest need of the church seems to be for preachers 
whose lives do not give the lie to their teachings, and who 

1 In a long welcome address read by a young negro woman were 
these words : " We welcome you to our humble homes, our tables, our 
beds, and to our cool shades and to our watermelons." And they were 
all welcome. 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION g/ 

realize something of the responsibility resting upon them. 
As a rule the average pastor does not begin to grasp the 
situation nor recognize the crying needs of his people. The 
majority of negro preachers are superficial in their work and 
in their reports ; they suspect any attempt of the white man 
to assist them, and consequently they give the most un 
reasonably unsatisfactory responses to requests for co-oper 
ation. They are unwilling to properly co-operate with any 
who would study conditions, and their statements are often 
farther from the truth than those made by any other class 
of negroes. This is a hard saying, and it is gratifying to 
note that there are notable exceptions to the rule. Many 
do not think of their work in any other phases than the ma 
terial ; if asked to mention the most vital need of the Church, 
they answer in regard to the various needs of the building. 
The pastor who answered, " Money, money, money, money, 
money," was typical of many who seem so utterly unable to 
get away from the standpoint of big things that they fail to 
do the little things. They will not commonly give infor 
mation concerning the ordinary facts that are vital to 
the welfare of their church. Among the negroes there is 
much respect for all that the minister says in public and 
private ; his actions are sanctioned. He carries with him a 
sanctity frequently ill-deserved and ill-won. His position 
and grace of manner give him a complete entrance into 
every home, and win for him the favor of the crowd. It 
is a great honor to that member of his flock who stands first 
in his favor, and upon whom he bestows his most graceful 
salutation. He strives to please the people, and is mas 
ter of the art of successful flattery among the negroes. He 
seldom cares for high principles in his life. Many cases 
of gross immorality among negro preachers have been noted, 
which though of the lowest and most corrupt nature, elicit 
no surprise among the negroes. For it is not expected that 



88 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 

the average negro preacher will always be pure in his life; 
rather his position gives him freedom to do as his inclination 
dictates. Open and hidden deception, the drinking of spirit 
uous liquors, illicit relations with members of his congrega 
tion such a state of affairs is not unusual. The ignorance, 
too, of most negro preachers is appalling; many are with 
out accurate knowledge of the simplest truths of the Bible. 
But it may be assumed for the time, that the notable excep 
tions, of which there are many, constitute the majority, and 
that the negro preacher only reflects one phase of the weak 
ness of the race. 

In spite of pretensions and superficiality, there is nothing 
so real to the negro as his religion, although it is a differ 
ent " reality " from that we commonly expect in religion. 
The Negro is more excitable in his nature, and yields more 
readily to excitement than does the white man. The more a 
thing excites him, the more reality it has for him. So, too, 
the quality of arousing emotions, of moving or exciting 
him, has as much to do with his belief in a thing as does the 
quality of giving pleasure. The religion of the negroes 
gives them much pleasure and satisfaction, they also are 
very much aroused in their worship. Their belief in the 
reality of religion is, then, almost a natural acquirement. 
And although the greater part of the religion of the Negro 
is pleasurable excitement, it is nevertheless, perhaps on that 
very account, the reality of all realities to him; his faith 
comes in this way rather than by knowledge. It is not sur 
prising, then, that the Negro s religion is not one of prac 
tical application, and that a scarcity of thoughtfulness and 
will-power is everywhere predominant. Although he has 
a ready knowledge of right and wrong, the Negro does not 
do the right nor condemn those who do the wrong. The 
attitude of both races tends to take it for granted that all 
negroes may be morally unaccountable. The question of 



393] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION gg 

morality does not enter into the consideration of employers, 
even those that hire all kinds of domestic servants ; they have 
little knowledge of the lives of these people and put forth 
little effort to make them better. So, too, among the ne 
groes there is no social ostracism for those who are habitu 
ally guilty of gross wrongs. There is, generally speaking, 
no deep conscience in the race. The criminal instinct ap 
pears to overbalance any consciousness which makes for 
righteousness and the Negro has little serene consciousness 
of a clean record ; he is ready to " run " at any surprising 
or suspicious turn of affairs. The Negro does not value 
his word or honor; he apparently can not always tell the 
truth. Only about one in every ten will keep an important 
engagement made in seriousness. Honesty appeals to the 
ordinary negro as the best policy, but his interpretation of 
honesty and policy is that which permits his natural self to 
fittingly appropriate things not his own. 

The Negro s conception of heaven and hell, God and the 
devil are very distinct. 1 Heaven is an eternal resting-place 
where he shall occupy the best place. He sings of his 
heavenly home in striking contrast to his earthly abode. 
Perhaps for the very reason that the negroes have little 
satisfactory home life, they expect to have a perfect home 
in the next life. The Negro wants that which is ideal and 
perfect but he is unwilling to put forth efforts to receive it. 
In slavery days it was perhaps natural that he should look 
to Heaven for his home. The same ideas intensified by 
the Negro s emotions and self-pity still predominate. He 
expects to be with the angels and to talk and associate with 
God and Jesus. There are many means of getting to 
Heaven, and the Negro s fancies of "Heaven s bright home" 
are scarcely exceeded by any fairy tales. There are silver 

1 Op. cit., passim. 



90 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [394 

and golden slippers, crowns of stars, jewels and belts of 
gold. There are robes of spotless white and wings all be- 
jeweled with heavenly gems. Beyond the Jordan the Negro 
will outshine the sun, moon and stars. He will slip and 
slide the golden streets and eat the fruit of the trees of 
paradise. Not only is this home to be a happy one, but it 
is to "be exclusive; only the most fortunate, of whom he is 
chiefest, will go there. With rest and ease, with a golden 
band about him and with palms of victory in his hands and 
beautiful robes, the Negro will be indeed a happy being. 

Hell is a place for thieves, sinners, drunkards and liars, 
but such persons are far removed from the negro individual. 
The Negro does not dwell upon thoughts of hell as he does 
of heaven. It is a place of torment and fire, it is deep and 
wide. It is the place where sinners go. But the negroes 
make much of the day when God shall come to " wake up 
the dead who s a sleepin in the grave." The day of judg 
ment is a terrible day, and may mean everything that could 
happen of death and terror at the end of the world. But 
it is also the destruction of the sinner and the glory of the 
righteous. The gruesome awe and terror which the Negro 
pictures together with the assurance that the saved shall 
come into their own, make the judgment scenes especially 
attractive to the Negro. Nor does he hesitate to affirm that 
the righteous in heaven will shout amen to the sinner s dam 
nation. The sinner in hell will see his friends in heaven. 
While the negroes speak of the " po sinner " and while they 
exhort to salvation, there is little human sympathy felt in 
the portrayal of the eternal punishment which the damned 
will receive; rather it is the glory of the righteous. 

The devil is the constant terror and proverbial enemy of 
the Negro. He is alive, alert and concrete. He represents 
the demon trickster incarnate in man. He is the opposite 
of God but much less powerful. He is the enemy against 



395] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION ^ 

whom a personal battle is always on. The devil meets the 
pilgrim at every turn of the road, but somehow he is usually 
outwitted. Satan howls when defeated. He throws rocks 
in the way of Christians, wears an iron shoe and is a busy 
old man. He throws a ball at the sinner, gets in a rage 
when he misses him, he rides iron gray horses. Satan is 
also a consummate liar. It is with such pictures as these that 
the negro sinner is warned, doomed and damnedy Such 
warnings have little practical bearing upon the permanent 
thoughts of the negroes in relation to conduct, and it is al 
ways offset by the better pictures of heaven and God. 

On the other hand, " King Jesus " is the bosom friend of 
the Negro. He comes in to intercept Satan and save the 
sinner-man from hell. He works wonders and miracles, 
takes the sinner s sins away, rides and flies, and comes to 
wake up the dead. He may be found in the wilderness, on 
the hillside and in the valley, or " setthr in de kingdom ". 
He buys the negro s liberty, plucks his feet from the miry 
clay, and raises man from the grave. He wears a snow- 
white robe and rides a milk-white horse. The negroes sym 
pathize much with the Christ of the crucifixion. God is 
often synonymous with Jesus. He is King Jehovah and 
walks the heavenly road with fire and sword breathing from 
his mouth. The Lord listens all day long, He unlocks the 
prison door, He comforts sinners, He sits in Heaven and an 
swers prayers, and He rides all the time in his chariot. The 
negro and God will walk and talk in the heavenly land. 

To find a happy home, to see all the loved ones and es 
pecially the biblical characters, to see Jesus and the angels, 
to walk and talk with them, to wear robes and slippers as 
they do, and to rest forever constitute the chief images of 
the Negro s heaven. He is tired of the world which has 
been a hell to him. Now on his knees, now shouting, now 
sorrowful and now glad, the Negro comes from " hanging 



92 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [396 

over hell " to die and " set by de Fadder s side ". In this 
life he will weep all he can for his Lord, do what he can and 
fight the battle in the struggle of life, in which he has a 
" hard time ". A sense of sin and guilt is ever present 
in the struggle between himself and some imaginary. But 
this sense of guilt is less practical than it is an expression 
of emotion. In all phases of the Negro s religious beliefs 
the emotional and imaginative transcend the practical appli 
cation. His religion is essentially dependent upon feeling 
and the stress is placed upon the supernatural that lies be 
yond his present sphere. A religious attitude is scarcely 
conceived by the Negro aside from the fundamental con 
ception of the next world. Thus it is that this life is con 
trasted with the next, the sinner contrasted with the right 
eous and the devil contrasted with God. The Negro is not 
to be censured, therefore, because the moral and ethical in 
his religion does not exert so strong an influence as it 
should; such is inevitable with a religion of this kind and 
among a people of the Negro s habits and temperament. 
He is no weaker in his religion than elsewhere; perhaps 
he is no stronger. It may be possible, however, to turn his 
religious nature into channels which will assist in leading 
him to a proper development of his better qualities. 

The casual observer does not realize the conditions which 
obtain among the negroes in their worship, because he does 
not see them. To know real conditions one must work with 
these people in their churches or see them week after week 
as they gather to worship. Then some of the difficulties 
which must be overcome may be seen. The testimony of 
those who have thus made careful observation is expert. 
The most thorough and effective organized church work of 
this kind done by the whites among the negroes is that done 
in the Sunday-schools. Many well-organized schools have 
been conducted by white leaders and teachers among the 



THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 93 

negroes of smaller communities. The best organized and 
most systematic work of this kind has been under the 
auspices of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. 
The results of schools thus conducted for several years in 
towns in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, 
Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and 
Kentucky are here given in a general way. 1 The list of 
white leaders in the schools includes prominent lawyers, 
professors, teachers, preachers, physicians, and business 
men, while many private workers of the highest intellectual 
attainment have not only put their best efforts into the work 
but have also given liberally of their means. The spirit 
of the work is missionary ; the methods " are governed by 
plain Southern principles ". There are now in operation a 
smaller number of such schools than a few years ago. 

On the part of the white people at large, there has been 
some opposition to the work, and a general lack of faith in 
the outcome. There was no co-operation on the part of the 
negro churches, but they rather looked upon the movement 
with some suspicion and jealousy. There was little disposi 
tion on the part of the parents to send their children to the 
schools; a few individuals approved of the work. The en 
rollment was small at the beginning but increased to larger 
numbers, while the average attendance remained the same, 
generally speaking, after the school was fully organized. 
The attendance was always uncertain; in good weather in 
summer the attendance was likely to be small; and always 

1 The total number of Sunday Schools thus organized by the Pres 
byterian Church is twenty-eight; they enrolled 1,965 pupils and there 
were one hundred and ninety-two teachers. The number from which 
reports were made included fourteen schools. The reports were much 
more extensive than is here indicated; the general summary is made 
from the combined reports. I am indebted to iRev. W. D. Hedleston, 
of Oxford, Mississippi, for assistance in obtaining data for this report. 



9 4 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [398 

when there were protracted meetings, lodge meetings, 
basket dinners, funerals and other similar attractions in the 
neighborhood, a small attendance might be expected. In 
cases where the enrollment is small it often occurs that there 
will be no pupils present, while the next Sunday will wit 
ness the largest attendance for weeks. In the management 
of such schools few offices have been given to negroes, and 
collections were rarely taken. The attitude of those teach 
ers who have taught faithfully for a number of years has 
not changed materially. Some have felt the hopelessness 
of the situation so far as visible results go ; some have been 
much encouraged ; all have been astounded at the prevailing 
ignorance with which they have to contend. The courses 
taught in the schools are made up from the catechisms and 
the Scriptures. The children are quick to memorize their 
lessons and appear to enjoy the Sunday-school. Many of 
them learn passages of scripture and the catechism easier 
than white children of the same age, while some are too 
dense of mind to learn at all. The brighter ones not only 
memorize well, but retain for some length of time what they 
have learned. The children love all music alike and appear 
to show no special favorites in the selection of their songs. 
Curious interest, habit, and " just to be together " seem to 
be motives for prompting attendance. Years of patient 
work show no visible results in the schools, though there 
is apparent improvement on the part of individual pupils. 
No change in the religious condition or improvement in the 
moral status can be traced to this source, and there is little 
visible effect upon the colored churches of the town. The 
negroes show no gratitude for the work done in their behalf, 
but think they are doing the workers a favor if they attend 
the school at all. They do, however, have respect for the 
leaders and their work. If the school should be closed in 
each community, there would perhaps be no effort on the 



399] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 95 

part of the negroes to get it back. In the classes composed 
of older men, there is, however, often real interest mani 
fested from Sunday to Sunday. The personality of the 
teachers has much to do with the work in general. 

These are discouraging facts ; but perhaps further par 
ticulars of existing conditions, as brought out in these re 
ports, will serve to explain them. The negroes are ignor 
ant of the Bible and its teachings; they do not know ya prac 
tical life of the moral law, but have a vague idea that it 
applies only to " white folks ". They reflect no home train 
ing and must follow their inclinations in the crowd. Hence 
any kind of serious appeal is by nature subservient to pleas 
ure, and must overcome a rooted love of pleasurable sen 
sations. They have apparently no motive for living; stylish 
white people are the ideals to which many look and their 
ideas of " stylish " are rather vague. Some would do right, 
but are kept in doubt by the conduct of their own pastors, 
and by seeing devout ones daily practicing the most disgust 
ing sins. Their ideas necessarily become a confused mass of 
instability. Both old and young seem almost irresistibly 
drawn to the various gatherings which benefit them in no 
particular, leaving those who would teach them better things. 
Few realize how great are the obstacles in the way of such 
work for the negroes. But it should be not forgotten that 
there are exceptions to the generalizations above outlined. 
In a few instances the white workers have found gratifying 
results ; they have found co-operation and earnestness. The 
pupils seem to have attended only for the real good they get. 
The workers have found gratitude, appreciation of the work, 
and improvement in numbers of those who have attended. 
None of the white workers have regretted the work done 
among the negroes. 

Besides the Sunday schools mentioned, there are sixty- 
four colored Presbyterian churches under the general super- 



0,6 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [400 

vision of the white church. They have a membership of 
2046 and there are 1828 Sunday-school pupils, with two 
hundred and twenty-three officers and teachers. 1 The col 
ored churches pay a total pastor s salary of only $1511.00 
and congregational dues to the amount of $2395.00. Fifty- 
three colored pastors serve these sixty-four churches. The 
work grows slowly; during the last year the churches re 
ceived a membership of only one hundred and twelve by pro 
fession of faith and twenty-six by letter. Thirty of the 
sixty-four received no additions by profession, and twenty- 
four received no additional members. Rev. J. G. Snedecor 
says in his report : " It is possible, however, that too much is 
expected of these men. Few of us realize how fearful are 
the obstacles which confront these faithful men when they 
seek to raise the standard of church membership and home 
life. Their work, like that of the foreign missionary, can 
not always be fairly estimated from statistics." 

Other denominations are showing an active interest in the 
work of the negro churches. A number of workers have 
undertaken to assist the negroes in various ways. In many 
towns preachers of the various white churches are disposed 
to preach to negro congregations in negro churches. The 
negroes in turn welcome them and receive their messages 
with good attendance and respectful attention. They in 
vite frank criticism given in the proper spirit. They feel 
an unusual amount of encouragement and fellowship when 
assisted properly by the whites. Many negroes have ex 
pressed the wish that relations between the colored and 
white churches could be more practical, expressing the be 
lief, too, that such an interest on the part of the whites would 

1 See Fifteenth Annual Report of the Executive Committee of 
Colored Evangelization. Rev. J. G. Snedecor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 
edits these reports and is general secretary of the Conference on 
Colored Evangelization. 



4 0i] THE NEGRO CHURCH AND RELIGION 07 

be extremely beneficial to the negroes. Likewise many of 
the whites manifest a growing interest in the negro churches. 
It is difficult to see why such an interest and assistance 
would not be helpful. While it is true that the Negro must 
work out much of his own salvation, it is nevertheless ex 
pedient that he have as much direction as possible. And 
there is a large field for church workers and a large measure 
of responsibility upon the white churches if they are to take 
advantage of the opportunities before them. The results 
will be slow and the obstacles are many, but the best in 
formed leaders among the whites express the belief and 
hope that much good can be accomplished through co-oper 
ation with the negro churches. 



CHAPTER III 
FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS AND BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES 

PERHAPS no phase of negro life is so characteristic of the 
race and has developed so rapidly as that which centers 
around the secret societies and fraternal orders. In the 
chapter which follows the effort is made to present a general 
view rather than exhaustive details, many of which it is not 
possible to obtain. The facts here presented are repre 
sentative and typical; they combine the essentials that are 
embodied in the fraternal organization as a social factor 
among the negroes, and indicate the position it holds in the 
Negro s estimation. This phase of negro life has grown 
to such an extent that in any study of the negro community 
it must be ranked as an influence with the home, the school, 
and the church. Indeed it has become an institution and 
at times is ranked by the negroes above the other institu 
tions, in part combining these with business and personal 
interests. The business of the fraternal orders is ranked 
along with the trades and commercial interests; they are 
given a prominent place on the program of the business 
leagues. The success of such organizations is rated with 
pride as a distinct business achievement. Church members 
often leave the church for the lodge ; business hours are ar 
ranged to meet its demands, and school is dismissed that the 
children may attend the meeting of the juveniles. The 
Negro esteems a prominent official place in his lodge a 
greater honor than a position of trust in his work. Man 
aged by members of his own race, the lodge offers the 
98 [402 



403] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES gg 

Negro a place wherein to indentify his interests with those 
of his own people; even more than the church, it is an in 
stitution that appeals to him as his own. It thus satisfies 
a natural social want. 

The growth of fraternal and benevolent societies among 
the negroes has been phenomenal. Since they became free 
the negroes have turned naturally to numerous organiza 
tions among themselves. It is often stated that prior to 
1890 there were more benevolent societies than at the pres 
ent time; it is perhaps true that a greater total number of 
local organizations might have existed, but the secret so 
cieties, carrying benefits and insurance, managed entirely by 
negroes have mostly arisen within the last twenty years. 
Form and ritual have increased with an accompanying pride 
in their functions. Such societies prosper alike in town and 
country and city, and when once organized they immediately 
become a vital part of the community life, often its center. 
Scores of different orders are represented in Southern 
towns, with hundreds of local chapters. A special feature 
of the colored organizations is found in the local character 
of their orders. The majority have their home offices in the 
state in which they do business. Few extend over much 
greater territory. Hence a comprehensive view of the fra 
ternal organizations of a state is essential to an adequate 
conception of the workings of the negro orders. At the 
same time, such a view gives an insight into both the general 
and particular facts obtaining. Mississippi is perhaps the 
most typical state and combines a large membership with 
enthusiastic workers and the societies have been well or 
ganized. The status of the Negro s societies in this state 
will be given therefore, before going into details of their 
operation. Out of thirty-four organizations licensed to do 
business among the negroes of Mississippi, only four do 
not operate from some central home office within the state. 



I0 o SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [404 

These organizations are not identified with those of other 
states, except in the case of a few prominent orders, which 
practically become local in their nature, as local branches 
of the larger order. Of twenty-two similar organizations 
among the whites of Mississippi, only two operate from a 
home office within the state. The majority of colored or 
ganizations have been organized since 1902 and others are 
being successfully organized each year, while efforts are made 
for still others that are less successful. In 1904 five were 
licensed to do business in Mississippi; in 1905 fourteen were 
licensed and three ceased operations. Those recently or 
ganized have prospered and have an aggregate of upward 
of eight thousand members. This means that new chapters 
are being placed in many new towns. The financial report 
of the fraternal organizations among the negroes of Mis 
sissippi for 1906 follows. 



BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES 



Name of Organization 


Certificates 


Assessments 
and Dues 
Collected 


Issued 


Ceased 


In force 


American Woodmen . 


24 
30 

1,021 

3,066 
1,958 

220 

2,050 

1,637 
2O 


13 
246 

404 
130 
158 
256 
358 
278 

18 
26 

4,705 


58 
118 

696 
11,326 
i, 800 
664 
7,i97 
3,94i 
295 

7i 
5,620 


$363.90 

7I9.65 

2,081.19 
71,741.85 
14,428.00 
780.25 
50,597.28 
11,969.12 
368.75 

246.75 
55,427.71 


Benevolent Association of Miss 
issippi 


Benevolent Industrial Association 
of Alabama 


Colored Knights of Pythias 


Colored Woodmen of Alabama. . . 
Earnest Workers Laborers Union. 
Eastern Star Benefit Association. 
Grand Court of Calanthe 


Grand United Benevolent Order. 
Independent Order Sons and 
Daughters of Charity 


Independent Order Sons and 
Daughters of Jacob 


2,763 





405] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES Concluded. 



101 



Name of Organization 


Certificates 


Assessments 
and Dues 
Collected 


Issued 


Ceased 


In force 


Independent Sons and Daughters 
of Charity, U. S. A. 


250 
80 

770 
1,259 

1,519 

2,410 
187 

633 
437 

282 

4,000 
303 

12 

1 66 
276 

462 
i,39i 
2,175 

15 

841 

5i 


10 


3,454 
80 

3,374 
1,283 

6,155 

684 
192 
10,655 
187 

380 
320 

1,380 

11,110 
302 

406 

1,245 

1,262 
1,500 
3,512 

100 

737 
no 


^,727.00 

94-45 

16,720.00 
3,799-34 

14,820.78 

25,563.70 
240.15 
105,502.15 
112.50 

3,646.00 
4,4i6.94 

10,764.75 

129,385.06 
652.71 

o 447-25 
8,489.75 

9,370.23 
7,412.14 
21,865.16 

650.70 
i,955.6o 
258.87 


Industrial Mutual Relief Associa 
tion 


Knights and Daughters of Tabor 
of Mound Bayou 


62 
505 

683 

300 

623 
697 


Knights of Canaan 


Knights and Knights and Ladies 
of Honor of World 


Knights and Ladies of the Temple 
of America 


Lone Star of Race Pride 


Masonic Benefit Association 


Mississippi Benevolent Society . . 
Mississippi Benevolent Mutual 
Aid Association 


253 
330 

18 

1,790 
i 

3 
190 
262 

fsi 

930 

25 
104 

2 


Modern Workmen of Alexandria. 
Mutual Benefit Association, 
United Brothers of Friendship, 
and Sisters of Mysterious Ten. . 
Odd Fellows Benefit Association, 
G. U. O.of O. F 


Old Dominion Protective Ass n . 
Royal Benefit Society 


State Golden Rule Societies 
Supreme Lodge Financial Union. 
United Brothers and Sisters of 
Benevolence of America 


United Reformers 


United Woodmen Benefit Ass n . 
Universal Brotherhood, Silver 
Key Commandery No. I. 


Woodmen of Union of Nachez... 
Mosaic Templars of America 


Total 


31,505 


14,273 


80,223 


$552,601.88 





The total amount of losses incurred in 1906 by the colored 
societies in Mississippi was $454,880.34, and the total paid 
was $430,719.06, which amount was paid out of $552,- 



102 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [406 

601.88 collected in assessments and dues. The remaining 
losses were paid later or refused according to the merits of 
the cases ; but in most cases they are always paid. The total 
amount of insurance carried by the colored insurance or 
ganizations in December of 1906 was over thirty million dol 
lars. - With the 31,505 certificates issued among the negroes 
in 1906, compare the 13,515 members which were added 
to the organizations of the whites during the same year; 
and with the 80,223 certificates of the negroes carrying 
thirty million dollars of insurance, compare the total num 
ber of certificates in force among the whites, 44,595, carry 
ing insurance to the amount of $64,992,784.00. The com 
parisons show the relative amounts and values of certificates. 
The total membership of the negroes is double that of the 
whites ; the amount of insurance is less than half. Among 
the colored organizations, the losses paid in 1906 exceeded 
those paid in 1905 by $79,832.44. and the assessments and 
dues collected exceeded those of the previous year by $153,- 
079.61. With the whites the losses paid in 1906 were 
$35,340.44 less than in the former year. For the negroes 
the average annual assessment and dues collected was $6.75 
for each member, while for the whites the average was 
$21.00. The lowest assessment among the societies of the 
negroes is fifty cents annually for each member, while the 
highest average for any negro society is about fourteen 
dollars. Five of the colored organizations did not increase 
their membership during the year and had a greater num 
ber of certificates cease than were issued during the year. 
These figures are given from the official report of the in 
surance commissioner of Mississippi. Careful inquiry and 
compilation of data obtained from the individual societies, 
and checking of results, show some inaccuracies, but no re 
sults could be obtained so satisfactory from every stand 
point as those given. The total membership of the negro 



407] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES IO3 

societies, paying and non-paying, is nearly equal to the total 
church membership, while in many communities the total 
membership of the societies is more than double that of the 
churches. The fraternal organizations in Mississippi oper 
ate from headquarters in eighteen towns in the state, having 
a population ranging from one thousand to thirty thousand. 
Vicksburg is the home office for six societies; Greenville 
has four. ^ 

In addition to the activities of their insurance and social 
life, the societies of the negroes in Mississippi support ten 
newspapers published in the state. The official organs of 
their respective societies are : The Benevolent Banner, The 
Jacob Watchman, The Mississippi Odd Fellow, The Blade, 
The Taborian Leader, The Southern Forum, The New 
Light, The Calanthian Journal, The Signal American Grand 
Reporter, and The Financial Union Journal. These papers 
issue the official information, notices, orders and news of the 
organizations which they represent. They often issue a 
roster of their subordinate lodges with the principal officers 
and location. Special news and reports are given promi 
nent places. Local news of the town in which the paper is 
published is also given a prominent place in the social items. 
Special articles and editorials with comments and letters 
complete the news of the publisher. The greater part of the 
paper, however, is furnished with the patent sheet; some 
times only a half dozen columns of local matter is given, 
while in a few cases the whole of the publisher s news occu 
pied less than four columns. For the most part, the mat 
ter published is of a wholesome nature. Enthusiasm can 
be felt through it all and the Negro s interests are well 
looked after. Good, wholesome advice is often given, and 
opinions exchanged. The managers offer attractive terms 
to agents for their papers and solicit job work from their 
constituency. They support the interests of their societies, 



I0 4 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [ 4O g 

which in most cases are identical with their own private in 
terests. They lend their influence to the support of such 
educational institutions as are encouraged by the fraternal 
societies. On the whole they are a very positive influence 
and add much to the Negro s self-interest and pride. 

Investigations show that other societies are in operation 
in Mississippi besides those chartered and recorded on the 
official lists. Some of these operate under secret rules and 
assess members according to their own agreement. The 
total number of such organizations, including the many 
little ephemeral societies operated wherever groups of ne 
groes are found, would run into the hundreds. Sometimes 
they continue for a year, sometimes only for one or two 
meetings. The passing of one makes room for the coming 
of another and their variety is measured only by the Negro s 
love of devising means and methods of social life, with 
leadership and entertainment in the foreground. Among 
such societies are numerous church and charity organiza 
tions, women s societies and literary clubs, debating socie 
ties and the like. There are, however, a few more promi 
nent organizations that have more than a local field, that 
are not included in the official list. Among them the most 
prominent are the Evening Star Benevolent Association, 
Victoria Star, Zion Aid Association, Wide-awake Benevo- 
lents, Mutual Aid, Home Benevolents, Sons and Daugh 
ters of Gideon, besides branches of the larger orders and 
imitations of a local nature, growing to a large degree out 
of the older orders. A study of the names of the societies 
already given will reveal much of their nature as well as the 
Negro s methods of naming them. They pay burial ex 
penses, sick benefits, and small amounts to beneficiaries of 
deceased members. Such amounts in many cases are de 
termined entirely by the number of members, the assess 
ment plan being the most common and most practical one. 



409] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

Members are admitted variously according to a flexible 
constitution made to meet the demands of the largest number 
of people. There are non-paying members who receive 
only the advantages coming from the fraternal society; 
there are those who take insurance for sick benefits only, 
while others wish burial expenses also. Still others take 
life insurance, while some combine all benefits, thu^ paying 
the larger assessments and dues. 

The subordinate lodges are organized throughout the 
territory wherever opportunity is favorable. Either an 
agent perfects the local society or a local person is au 
thorized to organize. There is much freedom in their 
operation. The subordinate societies are called variously 
lodges, fountains, unions, tents, tabernacles, camps, cabins, 
households, councils, meets and so on, according to the 
head organization. The usual officers are appointed, with 
slightly more naming and titles than the whites, and with 
a full quota of officers to be elected. The local subor 
dinate lodge is then named according to the pleasure of 
the members. The naming of the lodges indicates much 
of the Negro s nature and pride as it is revealed in his 
newly acquired social institution. An inquiry was made 
into the particular reasons for special names given local 
organizations, but not a single answer was found to be 
reliable. In general the names are given at random, at the 
suggestion of a leader. They are often selected with gen 
eral satisfaction because of a good sounding name or for 
special local associations. A great many are named for 
places in general, like Philadelphia, America, Africa, Talla 
hassee, Pennsylvania. A greater number are named after 
the town in which they are located, as for instance, Wood- 
burn, No. 99, Mound Bayou, No. 144. Many are named 
for historical characters : Washington, Jefferson, Frank 
lin, Napoleon, Webster, Pythagoras. Quite a good many 



I0 6 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [ 4IO 

are named in honor of noted negroes, Brown, Turner, Dun- 
bar, while a larger number are named in honor of negroes 
of local reputation or of less wide repute, such as Maggie 
Scott, Ed. Jones, No. 14, H. C. Holbrook, G. F. Bowles. 
The favorite names, however, and the large majority are 
given more promiscuously from scriptural names and places, 
from names of abstract qualities, terms denoting pride and 
honor, names indicating the nature of the society, and some 
from a sense of humor. In the latter class are Sheriff s 
Ridge, Lightfoot, Tillman s Home, and Hard Cash. The 
list shows a remarkable vocabulary of appropriate names 
and is well worth a careful perusal. While only a very 
partial list is allowed in the space here given, the number 
is large enough and the examples fully characteristic, so 
that a view of a rostrum may be gained. Take, for in 
stance, from the Pythian Lodge Roster of the Knights 
of Pythias, including over four hundred subordinate lodges, 
the following list, which excludes names of persons, towns 
and more general and common-place appellations. In or 
der that the full force and application of these names may 
be felt naturally, they are not classified according to themes, 
but given exactly as they occur over the state; the reader 
may then classify them if he chooses. 

Eureka, Mt. Helena, Beacon Light, New Light, Evergreen, 
Rising Star, Beulah Star, Morning Star, Damon, Bright Crown, 
Pride of South, Pride of Natchez, Bell of Delta, Pride of the 
East, New Moon, Forest Home, Eminence, Carolina Star, 
St. Pythian, Knighthood, New Hope, Queen Esther, Crescent, 
Lilly of Valley, Vestal, Progress, Climax, Friendly Brother, 
Golden Ridge. Dionysius, Rose Bud, White Hall, St. John. 
Golden Leaf, Avondale, Mt. Pleasant, Pilgrims Rest, Pride 
of Delta, Rose of Sharon, St. Elmo, High Grade, Sweet Home, 
Queen of Valley, Silver Lake, Rose Hill, Traveller s Rest, 
Utopia. Mizpah, Sunlight, St. James. Silver Shield, Lilly 



4II ] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

White, Pride of Onward, Blue Banner, Excelsior, Pride of 
West, Rising Sun, Pilgrims Rest, Weeping Willow, Salem, 
King of Night, Light Wilderness, Rosedale Star, Triumphant, 
Pride of Life, Golden Grain, Seven Star, Melodia, Bear 
Garden, New Prospect, Bcilus, Good Water, Good Tidings, 
Rose Bank, Cora Esther, Southern Beauty, Fidelity Monitor, 
Bonhomie, Corner Stone, Farmers Rest, Golden Gem, Mis 
sionary, Sharon, Golden Crown, Bold Pilgrim, Ccntcp Beauty, 
Progressive, Hill of Zion, Canon, Valley Home, Acme, Victor, 
Mt. Nebo, Dominion, Annette, Banner, Wavcland, Gold 
Wreath, Swan, Eclipse, Grand View, Breaksville, Buckhorn, 
Sunflower Bell, Hickory Tree, White Oak, American Beauty, 
Mississippi Valley, Free Will, White Cloud, Golden Rule, 
Beatrice, Aurora, Rose Bud, Nugent, Progress, Pine Grove, 
Black Bayou, Bethume, Waterloo, King Davis, Isola, Choice, 
Helm, Soul Chappel, Silver Globe, Honita, Dralloo, Sweet 
Home, Golden Gate, Dixie, Silver Ring, Welcome, Farmers 
Pride, Sea Shore, Clearfield, Leaf Rivers, Arborvitae, Saving 
Farmer, Friendly Farmers, Shady Oak, Gold Eagle, United 
Farmers, Light of Meadville, Pacific Banner, Marvel Rock, 
White Cedar, Zion Traveller, Brownsville, Champion s Hill, 
Child s Chapel, Prosperity, Purity, O. K., Single Star, Good 
Will, Sweet Pink, Sprangle Star, Lone Star, Gloomy Rose, 
Prince, New Era, Paradise. 

Many of the most popular names occur several times 
even in the roster of the same organization ; a separate num 
ber differentiates them. Thus St. Paul, St. John, Shiloh 
and other Scriptural names are popular. So are such names 
as Rose, Silver Leaf, Loving Brothers, Home, Pride, and 
different names embodying the words star, rest, sun, leaf 
and so on. If this list be compared with the roster of other 
societies, it will be found to be very similar; in fact, for the 
most part the names are very much the same. Likewise the 
names of subordinate lodges in other sections of the South 
resemble those just enumerated. 



I0 8 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [ 4I2 

The essential characteristics of the colored fraternal or 
ganizations are not unlike in the different states of the 
South. There are branches of the same orders operating 
in different states, with home offices in their respective 
states, thus making practically separate orders. Others 
operate from one office into two or three states, while a 
few, as has been indicated, operate in more. Agents are 
constantly planning to extend their societies into wider 
territory. Leading teachers, preachers, and business men 
among the negroes are continually planning and organiz 
ing new societies, each modeled in general after some well- 
known one, but having a special feature through which it 
claims excellence. Such a society is not infrequently ori 
ginated in a small town and extends further, if successful. 
Competent lawyers are employed to draw up its articles 
and a suitable charter, and the encouragement of the whites 
is sought. In other instances, the secret societies belong 
entirely to local organizations of negroes, and not even its 
meetings and purposes are to be known by the whites. The 
names of other common orders reveal the same general pur 
poses and nature of the organizations as those cited from 
Mississippi. Typical ones are: Brothers and Sisters Aid 
Society, Charitable Brotherhood, Colored Brotherhood 
Company, Giddings and Jollifee Union, Golden Rule Bene- 
volents, Good Samaritans, Grand Fountain United Order 
True Reformers, Grand United Order of the Sons and 
Daughters of Peace, Lincoln Benefit Society, Living Stream 
Brotherhood, Negro Christian Brotherhood, People s In 
dependent Order True Reformers, Royal Knights of King 
David, Sons and Daughters of Refuge, Standard Fraternal, 
Loving Sisters, Consolation, Sisters of David, Humble 
Christian, Daughters of Rebecca, Moral Reform. 

Besides the subordinate adult lodges, many of the organi 
zations make provision for children s societies. Such 



ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

" juveniles " are ordinarily superintended by one or two 
officers elected from the senior organization, in most cases 
from among the women. Each community as a rule has 
one or two children s societies and in larger towns they are 
more numerous. They usually meet once a month, less 
often fortnightly. They include on the roll the majority 
of children of the requisite age, usually from six to seven 
teen years. The attendance at the meetings is goocf and the 
children find much pleasure and pride in them. At such 
meetings they play^ drill, talk and sometimes sing. They 
are taught to keep the pass word, which they do with pride 
and consummate skill. No inducement will lead them to give 
the word to a white man. Like the older members, the 
children are taught the benefits of the societies; the juveniles 
are training schools for the children. Dues and assess 
ments of small amounts are collected and an initiation fee 
of fifty cents is charged. The proceeds go for sick benefits 
and burial expenses. The childrens societies are, however, 
entirely subordinate and hold no conspicuous place in the 
total of lodge operations. 

Some of the characteristics of the negro lodge may now 
be inferred. A single town having not more than five hun 
dred colored inhabitants not infrequently has from fifteen to 
twenty subordinate lodges, each representing a different 
order. Many negroes belong to from three to five each, 
and the majority a belong to more than one. Indeed it is a 
source of great pride to be able to hold office in more than a 
single order, but as a rule every negro has a favorite one to 
which he is most loyal; this may be changeable, differing 
from year to year. The negroes ordinarily have one or 
two central meeting places where the lodges may meet, a 
Masonic or Odd Fellows Hall, or rooms rented over a store 

1 That is, a majority of the regular lodge patrons and enthusiasts. 



HO SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [414 

owned by negroes. Such halls are owned by negroes and 
are used for various assemblages. The pro-rata for each 
society in rents is thus reduced to a minimum, inasmuch as 
they arrange different nights for their meetings; a single 
hall will thus serve for a half dozen societies, or even more. 
The social and fraternal features occupy the greater part 
of the Negro s time and interest in the lodge. The common 
hour for meeting is eight o clock in the evening, with special 
hours arranged to suit occasions; such meetings often last 
far into the night and not infrequently into the morning 
hours. This is true especially when extra features are on 
the program. The attendance is rather full, although at 
times it falls off for lack of interest, such a state preceeding 
the disorganization of that special lodge. As a rule, how 
ever, the average negro does not love to miss a meeting, and 
will set aside church or family duties to attend the lodge 
function. However, meetings are often neglected or post 
poned by mutual agreement for some other special event; 
for with the Negro any new special feature is better than 
an ordinary one. At the regular meetings the members 
attend to the usual round of business, consisting of receiv 
ing or soliciting members, discussing the lodge affairs and 
its members, the trial of such members as are deemed ques 
tionable, learning the rules of the society and enjoying 
special talks and debates and the like. In the discussion 
of measures and means every member wishes a prominent 
part with his speech. The learning of the rules and regula 
tions, the keeping of the secret and learning others, with 
the attendant pride and entertainment, make up the attrac 
tive features of the regular meeting. The election of offi 
cers gives additional interest, and a large number of offices 
makes it possible to honor a large portion of the member 
ship. The social feature is thus stressed in an indirect way, 
the members " have somewhere to go ", and the total social 



4I5 ] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES IIr 

life is greatly increased by the meetings. Above all, the 
secrets of the society are not disclosed. From the young 
est member of the children s societies to the oldest veteran 
in fraternal circles, complete silence is maintained on all 
things pertaining to the secrets of their society. Leaders 
and preachers who have responded readily with information 
in regard to other matters, become silent on all alike when 
questioned in regard to special phases of lodge life, although 
there is a minority who are willing to express an opinion 
concerning the advantages or disadvantages of the secret 
societies. 

The chief characteristics of the fraternal organization 
may be learned from the enthusiastic claims of their agents. 
The Negro stresses the feature that appeals most to his con 
stituency, each organization maintaining that it has special 
qualities that render it unquestionably the best in the world. 
Typical examples of advertisements will serve to illustrate. 
The following announcement is printed regularly in the 
official organ of the society, besides being distributed in 
circular form. 

READ EVERY LINE OF ME. 

THE 

INDUSTRIAL MUTUAL RELIEF ASSOCIATION : Home Office,. 
Brookhaven, Miss. Chartered in the State of Mississippi 
in 1901. 

Its object is to Intellectually, Morally, Financially, and 
Religiously elevate the Race. 

This organization has no equal. Why ? Because it provides 
to pay its members when totally disabled, to earn support, a 
pension of not less than $12 or more than $36 PER QUAR 
TER, to members holding $1,000 policies. Pays doctor s bills 
out of pension if previous arrangements be made with the 
Master or sick committee. Pays from subordinate lodge $8 
PER MONTH AT $2 PER WEEK for sick benefits and 



II2 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 

buys medicine. Will educate members of the order free. 
FURNISHES A $25 FUNERAL. Puts a $15 TOMB 
STONE at the grave of the dead. Loans money on policies. 
Makes all loans at 6 percent. Will aid in buying lands and 
building homes for its members. Pays all assessment money 
back every five years, in cash to each member, or if any mem 
ber wishes he can draw a paid up certificate for five years and 
remain in the order without paying assessments. Members 
cannot lose if they stick to the order five years. All claims 
settled promptly. Either sex eligible from 5 to 65 years of 
age, if in perfect health, for $3.00. Children from 5 to 15 
years of age at $1.50. It is the purpose of the Association to 
furnish educational protection to its members, and to assist 
them in time of need. Therefore it is the desire of the So 
ciety to secure the cooperation of all who have the interest of 
their fellowmen at heart, in order that the sick, disabled, 
widows and orphans, and any legal representative may be 
protected. Members holding $500 policies will get a pension 
for total disability of not less than $9 or more than $18 per 
quarter. In writing members state what policy wanted. As 
sessments per month on $1,000, $1.00; on $500, 50 cents. 

$200 for 35 cents per month. Members holding such policy 
shall be known as contributors to the Old Folks and Youths 
Distribution fund. The fund both in the subordinate and 
grand lodge shall be kept entirely separate, as there is gen 
erally more sickness among the ones expected to hold this policy 
than any other. 

Anyone though can hold this policy that wishes. 

This policy can be held by all persons wishing to join this 
Society from 50 years of age up, children may hold it if de 
sired from 5 years to 16 years of age. 

This Association is to elevate the Race by building Indus 
tries that will better employ each and all who want to do 
something. Aside from the benevolent part, we expect to 
establish Banks, Drug Stores, Build Homes, and do many 
other good things as stated above. 



ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

AFTER DEATH : WHEN You HAVE ROBBED YOUR FAMILY. 

When men think of their death, they are apt to think of it 
only in connection with their spiritual welfare, and not of the 
destruction in the household which will come from their emmi- 
gration from it. It is selfish for you to be so absorbed in the 
heaven to which you are going, that you forget what is to 
become of your wife and children after you are gone. You 
go out of this world not leaving them a dollar yet you die 
happy. You can trust them in the hands of God, who owns 
all, but if you could pay a premium on a policy and neglect it, 
then it is a mean thing for you to do to go up to heaven re 
joicing, while the family goes to the poorhouse. When their 
elbows, feet and knees are bare, the thought of your splendid 
robe in heaven will not keep them warm. The minister may 
preach a splendid sermon over the remains, and the choir 
may sing with tongues of angels, but you have robbed your 
family. You could have provided for your household, and 
you neglected it. To this end we wish to interest you, that 
you will not neglect to join a good society. 

The president of the above society is an industrious and 
law-abiding negro, owning some property and taking great 
interest in his leadership. He maintains that " you don t 
have to die to win in his society, but win while you live ". 
He wishes to extend the territory of his organization into 
other states. He and his wife conduct a school for the in 
dustrial training of members of the lodge, but open to any 
who have the money. Instruction is given by these two in 
" Kindergarten, English, Normal, College Preparatory 
(Classical), College Course (Classical), Industrial, Sewing, 
Cooking, Fancy Work, Bicycle, Umbrella and Furniture 
Repairing, Mattress Making and Upholstery." The wife, 
who is principal, the husband being the president, " Solicits 
Donations for Purpose of Building Dormitories for Girls 
and Boys, and for other general necessities such as Desks, 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 

Apparatus, and other school supplies. We are out for the 
good of the race and will be thankful for any amount con 
tributed by the lovers of education, morality and industry. 
We want to raise $50,000." The expense account then is 
given, including instruction in " Music Department Eight 
Grades ", which is given by the " lady-Principal." Special 
items are : " Positively, payments must be made monthly 
and in advance." " Recitations will be suspended from 
students who fall behind in their accounts. Members of 
the I. M. R. A. will be provided for an entrance into the 
school. Board $6.00 per month." An advertisement, on 
stiff cardboard, is the means of extra solicitation for the 
school. On one side of this card is the photograph of the 
" president ", covering one-half the face of the card. With 
the photograph and covering the other half, is written: 
Prof. - , President of the I. M. R. A., The I. M. B. 

I. I. & C. of T., Editor of The Peoples Relief and Sec. of the 
Y. M. C. A. Box 251 Residence 413 E. - - St. On the 
opposite side of the card is inscribed the " School of Infor 
mation " giving rates and courses and in addition the fol 
lowing card : 

JOIN OUR ORDER 

THE INDUSTRIAL MUTUAL RELIEF ASSOCIATION 

And be benefitted. See the President, or 

write for information. The best 

in the world 

Subscribe for THE PEOPLES RELIEF, one of the 
leading negro papers 

AGENTS WANTED FOR EVERYTHING. BIG Salaries Paid. 

The above illustrations show something of the enthusiasm 
and remarkable energy and faith that is put into these so 
cieties and their undertakings. They show also one of the 



4 io] , ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

secrets of their marvelous success. The Negro believes 
in advertising; he does not object to figures or world 
wide comparisons. Enthusiasm is contagious and members 
come in rapidly. They are all honest in their beliefs, in a 
way ; his order succeeds, then why is it not a great one ? He 
wishes to teach everything that can be taught and his peo 
ple need it, why not teach it ? And indeed he must have his 
running expenses and these are forthcoming. Take another 
illustration, published in the Southern Forum, the official 
organ of the Lone Star Race Pride, Friendship, Love and 
Help: 

GREATEST IN THE NEGRO LIMELIGHT. 

The following are a few of the many reasons why the 
ORDER of the LONE STAR RACE PRIDE is the greatest 
before the fraternal limelight today: 

First It is purely and absolutely a colored order from 
start to finish the product of the brain of the race. 

Second It aims to reach the unreached masses, as well as 
the classes, of the race, thereby placing the lever where it is 
most needed to elevate the manhood and womanhood of this 
race. 

Third It pays a weekly sick benefit, from $2.00 to $5.00, 
to all sick or disabled members. 

Fourth It furnishes a funeral outfit, from $15.00 to $100.00, 
to all deceased members. 

Fifth It pays a $300.00 death benefit, ninety days after 
the death of a member in good standing. 

Sixth It gives relief to all members who are financially 
distressed from loss of home or household effects etc., caused 
either by fire, wind, water, or other natural agencies. 

Seventh It operates an ART, TRADE AND LITERARY 
COLLEGE where the members can have their sons and daugh 
ters educated at a minimum cost. 

Eighth It has a MILITARY or UNIFORM RANK DE- 



I T 6 SOCIAL AXD MEXTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [420 

PARTMEXT under the management of a MAJOR GEN 
ERAL, where its male members may receive such instructions 
that they will be prepared to serve their country in future 
emergencies. 

Ninth It has a JUVENILE DEPARTMENT under the 
management of a MATRON and CHAPERONE where the 
boys and girls, from 6 to 16 years of age, are prepared to 
enter the Mystic Temple of Light and Knowledge. 

Tenth It has a BUSINESS DEPARTMENT, in which 
the members are taught business how to save and invest their 
money and thus have something in this life. 

This order is presenting ITS CLAIM and TAKING HOLD 
on the race everywhere, and we need DEPUTIES, GOOD, 
HONEST, ENERGETIC men and women in EVERY 
STATE to represent it. ONE who is a HUSTLER can 
easily make $200 or more a month and expenses. When writ 
ing for deputyship, send REFERENCE and your PHOTO 
GRAPH. 

The claims of such an order are indeed enormous : to 
some extent, however, they are all fulfilled. There is a 
trade school, a juvenile department and business sugges 
tions made in plenty. They do drill and train sometimes in 
uniform under a "major general" such as they choose: 
plans are made to relieve suffering of all kinds. It thus 
claims to be a panacea for all human evils and the only way 
to perfection in the individual and the millennium of the 
race. The above society besides furnishing such bene 
volent aids is also the " Mystic Temple of Light and 
Knowledge." Its school is a " Trade and Literary College " 
with two teachers and a small number of pupils, like the 
one just mentioned, varying from twenty to fifty. The 
school is situated " in the heart of the Delta, the Modern 
Eden of the world, offers unsurpassed opportunities for the 
colored youths of the South ", and gives courses in 



42 1 ] ORGAN IZA TIONS AND SOCIETIES l 1 j 

" English. Normal and Collegiate, Industrial courses for 
boys Carpentry and kindred trades, Agriculture, care of 
Live Stock, &c., For Girls Sewing, Mexican Drawing 
work, Household Economy, Horticulture and Millinery." 

The success of the negro fraternal orders in obtaining 
money enables them to make such offers as the above. The 
chief elements entering into their finances must be Reserved 
for another place, but some of their demands may be noted 
at this point. Here are some of the requirements in brief 
as they are given in the orders of commanders : 

All Grand Writers must collect endowment. 1.00, in Decem 
ber from every member of their lodge. Each Grand Writer 
shall collect the Supreme Lodge tax, 25 cents for the last half 
of the year and report in December . . . also collect the first 
half of semi-annual distress tax, 5 cents, from each member. 
. . . This is in accordance with a late act of the supreme lodge. 
The school tax. 25 cents, for the first half of the year must 
be collected from each member. The Grand President of each 
subordinate lodge shall see that semi-annual pass word money, 
10 cents, is collected from each member by the Grand Writer. 
Each subordinate lodge shall be held responsible for each 
member on its roster and must forward in its report 10 cents 
for each member. No lodge that is chartered shall make 
or initiate persons into the order for less than $5.00, nor more 
than Sio.oo without a dispensation from the Great Supreme 
Grand President. The last supreme Lodge passed a resolu 
tion making it compulsory for every subordinate lodge to 
subscribe for the lodge paper and also have its lodge, location, 
nights of meeting, and chief officers advertised for the whole 
year in the lodge directory, for which each lodge must pay 
82.00. Each lodge, therefore, must collect the money at once 
and send it to the Great Supreme Grand President. If the 
Grand presidents of each subordinate lodge will urge upon 
the members that each purchase a copy of the constitution and 
by-laws there will be less trouble among the members in the 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [422 

local lodges. The Supreme Lodge ordered that every sub 
ordinate lodge at an early date give a special entertainment 
for the benefit of the SCHOOL FUND the proceeds of which 
must be reported forthwith to the treasurer. 



enthusiastic tribute to the lodge, which is well calculated to 
inspire absolute confidence in the worthiness of the causes 
for which the Negro s money is to be spent. Says he : 

Our order is springing up here, there, and in fact everywhere, 
as if touched by some magic wand. In short, its development 
is the greatest wonder of the hour. People everywhere in 
stantaneously appreciate the inestimable worth of its aims and 
objects, and fully regard them as the " key " to the solution 
of the negro problem the world over, hence are joining our 
ranks by thousands daily. 

Other items of possible extra fees are numerous, and are 
flexible. 

Deputies and lodges can charge $1.50 for membership or re 
newal in the U. S. and S. of B. of A. but must send to the 
grand secretary and treasurer, fifty five cents for new mem 
bers and one dollar for renewed members. If a member does 
not pay assessments by the fifteenth of each month he or she 
must renew by paying one dollar. All members missing two 
assessments in succession must take out new membership by 
paying $1.50 and changing policies. The Bond Tax for each 
lodge is seventy five cents, which amount secures the local 
secretary and treasurer and is cheaper than making personal 
bonds. Just send in seventy five cents and the Grand Lodge 
will do the rest. You do not have to hunt up any sureties 
or go before any officer of the law, nor do you need any bond 
blanks. All you need to do is to send the seventy five cents 
in at once. 



423] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

Likewise, another lodge charges more for blanks and forms, 
another for ritual and another for various incidentals. 
Guides containing the ceremonies are sold at from seventy- 
five cents to a dollar and a half with the exhortation that 
" every lodge should have several copies and every member 
should be in possession of one copy and keep up with the 
ritualistic work ". 

One of the most prominent items in the expense y entailed 
upon the members by many of the lodges is that for dress 
regalia. Badges, buttons, signs, uniforms and robes con 
tribute much to the pleasurable expenses of the members. 
And the supplies are usually bought from headquarters or 
from an individual prominent in the order. Take the fol 
lowing illustrations: 

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THIS ARTICLE 

To all Subordinate Lodges throughout the Supreme Juris 
diction, Greeting: 

I, , Great Supreme Grand President 

of the L. S. R. P. of E. L. & H, by authority invested in me, 
do hereby designate Sunday, August ninth as the day and date 
on which to observe our aniversary, and call upon every one 
of the lodges to assemble in their temple or some house of 
worship, and observe the day with appropriate religious cere 
mony. Official program will be mailed out to all lodges in time 

DRESS AND REGALIA 

All gentlemen must wear black pants, black coats and black 
hats and white vests and white gloves. Ladies must wear 
black skirts and white waists and white gloves and plain 
white sailor hats. All officers must have on a collar, except the 
Grand President, who must wear a crown, white robe and 
collar; the Grand Writer must wear a crown, blue robe and 
collar. All other members may wear collars but must wear 
badges. All officers and members must be in full regalia on 
that day. For collars, buttons, badges, banners etc., each 



120 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [424 

lodge should send in its order now that there may be no delay 
in filling it in time. 

Again another lodge rules : "All subordinate lodges are 
required under penalty of law, to celebrate the Grand Lodge 
Anniversary on the 4th. Sunday in April. Fail not. On 
this occasion and on all public occasions, every member must 
participate and have on the regular lodge badge. Better 
send in your order in time." So again: "Every lodge 
should have a full set of dress regalia and the lodge seal ". 
And no one objects to the regalia. Indeed it is the chief 
joy of special occasions to march in uniform with banners 
and colors. Such a procession is indeed an interesting and 
also an impressive spectacle. It is with pleasure that the 
local lodge reports the ceremonies to headquarters, services 
being carried out " with members sitting with badges on " 
or " when members marched in full regalia ". 

In addition to such expenses as are entailed by the regular 
fees and such extras as have been mentioned, the lodge 
undertakes to raise much money by social gatherings. 
Special meetings always " raise " a collection and rally 
days are numerous. The box suppers, musicals and literary 
entertainments, dances and the like combine the social fea 
tures with the raising of money. In this way the sum 
total of money raised approximates large amounts for the 
Negro; much of this is never returned to the members be 
cause of the great percentage who drop out after a few 
payments. Enthusiasm is wild, but wanes. So too there is 
some discontent and rivalry among the lodges and mem 
bers. Some of the secretaries and treasurers apparently ap 
propriate some of the collections to their own dispensation, 
while as a rule they are allowed great freedom in expend 
ing it. The attitude of the Negro toward the actual and 
probable misappropriation of lodge funds is noteworthy. 



425] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES I2 i 

The penalty for such offence is not heavy, as a rule. The 
pointed locals from the editor s pen illustrate the situation. 

M. A. Thomas who was secretary at Pleasant Hill Lodge has 
been suspended from office, because of misappropriating Grand 
Lodge Funds. Some other secretaries are pinching off the 
Grand Lodge funds and misappropriating Grand Lodge 
moneys, who if they do not stop will receive the same medicine. 
Better accept this timely warning and " come across." 

There is a certain local secretary in Warren county, won t 
call his name just now, but if he keeps up his habit I will, who 
has been nibbling off the Grand lodge money for a year or 
two. If he does not quit we will have to pull the cover from 
off him. 

Some of the secretaries are still appropriating the assessment 
moneys to their own use, which is a violation of the laws of 
the order and of the state. Such an act is a penitentiary of 
fence and yet some of our secretaries will take the risk. 

If some of the secretaries who have appropriated the lodge s 
money to their use do not " come across " at an early date, 
their names and acts will be published in the May number of 
the Banner. 

And thus frightened, the secretaries " come across at a 
rapid gait; indeed some make amends who have perhaps 
appropriated no funds illegally. As has been noted else 
where the Negro assumes an attitude of guilt all the time, 
both toward himself and toward his fellow man. He may 
at least be guilty of something. On the other hand, it may 
be said that after all, aside from the general graft of lodge 
leaders, which is considered by all parties thoroughly justi 
fiable, the amount of lodge funds appropriated would seem 
to be much smaller than one would expect. 

It is often difficult for members and for subordinate 
lodges to bring forward their assessments on time. Hence 



I2 2 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [426 

ample provisions are made for paying them later, by an in 
creased fee. For two or more delays renewal is necessary, 
for which one-half of the original fee is usually added. It 
often happens that there are more renewals than new mem 
bers. Again, individual members, as well as entire subor 
dinate lodges permit their policies to lapse for weeks or 
even months, thus giving up all claim to the amounts paid 
in, until some speaker pleads the cause of the order, when 
enthusiasm is again aroused and all join again. Nor do 
they regret the necessity of having to pay again; this hap 
pens not once but often, and not infrequently several times 
in the life of a single subordinate lodge. It is to be ex 
pected, then, that petty difficulties may often arise, and 
attempts to avoid paying and yet keep their membership. 
There is, however, much leniency at headquarters, lest the 
lodge be lost, and rules are not always enforced. The fol 
lowing items from the column of instructions and warnings 
will illustrate the general as well as the specific attitude. 

A certain Lodge at B. always straightens up in time to repre 
sent in the Grand Lodge every year and then never pays 
another assessment, but renews again just before the next 
Grand Lodge meeting. They tell us the members pay assess 
ments regularly during the whole year. Now the secretary 
of this lodge, must " come to time " or we will publish his 
lodge. 

If you take a notion to become delinquent or the money is 
hard to get to pay your dues, don t lay the blame on the 
Grand Lodge or some of its officers, but act the part of a man 
or woman and just back out. 

If several other lodges who are behind in paying assess 
ments do not report in a few days, they will be suspended and 
published. All must comply with the law alike. We cannot 
bend the law to you but will have to bend you to the law. 



ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

So, too, letters from former members indicate the renewed 
enthusiasm as well as the desire to again get in the " lime 
light of fraternal society." Sometimes it is a desire to be 
come the leader in the new lodge and thus receive certain 
emoluments ; sometimes it is a desire for approval from the 
Supreme headquarters and from the race in general, for 
each writer thinks everybody else reads and knows his or 
her letter. Sometimes it is apparently pure enthusiasm and 
faith in the good work of the order. Pride goes far to 
ward culminating such enthusiasm. The following is a 
typical attitude: 

Dear Professor B. This, I suppose, will be a surprise to you, 
but I trust it will be an agreeable surprise. The Benevolent 
Banner reached me today and after perusing its columns with 
much care my mind went back to its first obligation, which 
was made in the Benevilent Society some years ago. So I write 
that I may get authority to reorganize the lodge at this place 
or to organize a new one. Now if this is satisfactory, please 
send me a constitution and full information that I may become 
acquainted again. 

I am now carrying $3,700 worth of fraternal insurance in 
other orders but the Benevolent is my first love and reading 
the Banner has renewed my affections for it. Please explain 
fully, as my school will close on the 22inst and I can do much 
work for the Grand Old Order by the next session of the 
Grand Lodge. Much love to you and yours. Yours for 
Success, Mrs. - etc. 

" Chips from the Grand Inspector s Ax " are interesting re 
ports and insight into the lodge life and ideals of the negroes- 
Here are found bright, sparkling and newsy enthusiasm, 
which reflect all too plainly the popular and pleasant man 
ners and methods of the lodge workers and the laymen. 
The inspector reports : 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [428 

I visited St. Paul Lodge and was nicely received and enter 
tained. We had a regular Benevolent Covenant meeting and 
all delinquent members to promise to renew, those in promised 
to stay in the field and those out promised to get in as soon 
as possible. Good Benevolent talks were made by Brothers 
so and so and sisters so and so etc. I responded in my humble 
way in behalf of the Grand Lodge. A royal banquet was 
spread and all enjoyed it beyond description. A nice purse 
was presented to to the Grand Inspector. The St. Paul 
Lodge is up to date. 

Having arrived at Arcola Saturday morning I was met by 
Hon. L. J. Taylor who carried me to Manhatten to the home 
of Hon. Brother C. M. and Sister M., a Christian lady. 
Dinner being ready, I sat down at that large and tempting table 
and wondered whether I had arrived in the Land of Canaan 
or the Garden of Eden. Horses being furnished us by the 
President we rode to several plantations preaching the Bene 
volent gospel. We also walked the streets of Arcola doing 
the same. Rev. E. D. W. our grand deputy is doing good 
work in this neck of the woods and expects to send in ten 
lodges before the grand lodge meets. Sisters M., T., and T. 
are good working members. Having arri/ed at the hall Presi 
dent M. called the meeting to order. Rev. L. I. T. chaplain 
ascended the sacred rostrum and read for the opening the 2nd. 
chapter of Matthew, and sang " A Charge to Keep I have " y 
after which prayed a spiritual prayer. Addresses was then 
delivered by Brothers and sisters etc. President M. in a most 
stylish and flattering way introduced your humble servant. 
My benevolent spirit being at its highest degrees at the good 
treatment of these I spoke until I was carried off in a benevo 
lent trance. I was nicely entertained at the home of Rev. I. T. 
that night and was escorted to the train the next morning by a 
committee composed of brothers. A thousand thanks to Ar 
cola. Go forward. 

Another, after the description of various particulars as 
above concludes in an equally joyous manner : 



429] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

Devotional exercises being over, I was introduced by the vice- 
president and I informed them that all great things has its 
ups and downs but stand fast in the benevolence that was 
handed down to Hon. P., Prof. B., and Father R. After this 
a nice purse was presented to me. After the meeting ad 
journed these loving brothers went to Sawyers Hotel and 
rented the best room and paid board and lodging for me. 
Three cheers for Pride of Leland No. 190. j 

While in some localities much strife and jealousies exist 
between rival orders, for the most part they are notice 
ably lacking. The contrast between lodge and church is 
here apparent; the lodges manifest more of the fraternal 
spirit than do the churches one toward another. In no 
phase of negro life, home, school, church or lodge is he 
free from petty rivalries to some degree, but in the lodge, 
members are often in good fellowship and standing in sev 
eral orders. A leading " light " and the editor of the offi 
cial organ of one order was also the most prominent local 
leader in another. He published the rival orders meetings 
and proceedings in a column preceding those of the one 
represented by the paper. He also refers with pride to the 
two orders when speaking of his work. Local lodges often 
combine to celebrate a special day, each sitting in a section 
of the hall or church. Many letters report with pride the 
harmony existing among the two or more orders, and much 
fun and ribaldry is indulged in at each other s expense. 

Perhaps enthusiasm is nowhere more marked and wild 
than among the lay members and officers of subordinate 
lodges. Their sentiments are less often given to the public 
than are those of the supreme officials, and as a rule, their 
enthusiasm is of shorter duration, but it is nevertheless not 
less marked. Reports from secretaries of the subordinate 
chapters are solicited for the official papers and many are 



126 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [430 

published. Statements from individuals give characteristic 
zeal in conversation and in writing. Something has already 
been seen of this feature of lodge life. Typical letters 
from members are here given for further illustration. They 
indicate the specific points noted and at the same time sum 
up many of the features and details of negro lodge customs 
and operations. Much, too, of the Negro s nature is re 
flected in such expressions. 

Dear Editor : Please allow me space in your valuable paper 
to speak of our excellent Grand Lodge Aniversary, which was 
observed by St. Paul Lodge, No. 81. The Lodge attired in 
full dress uniform, accompanied by Zion Hill Lodge No. 100,. 
who was also attired in full dress uniform, formed procession 
at school house and marched to the church where an anxious 
crowd was assembled to witness the ceremonies. 

The meeting was called to order and a fervent prayer ser 
vice followed. Everybody seemed fairly enthused and the 
singing was beautiful. Brother J. M. T. read for introduction 
the 6ist Chapter of Isaiah and lined while the congregation 
sang, " I heard the Voice of Jesus Say etc ". Brother S. C. W. 
fervently petitioned the Throne of Grace. President W. J. B. 
preached an able sermon from a selection of the I3th chapter 
of Cor. He struck a death blow to the theory of fraternal 
benefit societies being a hindrance to the race. He showed 
that a man had a right to live and die for his God and his 
family, and that a man could not better live and die for his 
family than by joining endowment societies and leaving a 
benefit to his dear ones when he crosses the river. Brother 
D. B. executive officer of the local Jacob Lodge made an able 
address defending the good name of fraternal orders. Many 
persons in the audience were heard to exclaim, " I am per 
suaded to join this great order." Cloths were spread on the 
beautiful grass, a feast was had and all ate till they were 
filled. Collection $9.50. All went home exclaiming in the 



43I ] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

language of Peter of old, " It is good for us to be here." 
Yours in B. L. etc. 

Every letter from subordinate lodges furnishes many points 
of interest; only a few, however, can be included here. Dif 
fering somewhat in details from the above reports is the 
following characteristic letter, coming from the Pythian 
circles. It presents a complete general view of ^ typical 
meeting with the consequent effect upon the negroes present. 
While the form and language is less correct than the ones 
already given, it is still typical and full of enthusiasm. It 
is nearer the average attitude of the great majority of 
members. 

Sir. John W. S, 

Dear Editor : Please allow me space in your paper for me 
to say that Belmont Lodge No. 51 held its memorial service 
on the above date, with the grand lecturer P. C. D. with us 
on his official visit. Making his lecture and helping us to 
conduct the service. The lodge was called to order by Sir. 
J. W., C. C. after the members had been seated with their 
badges on, then Sir. Whitney explaining to the lodge the cause 
of the extra session, that it was to pay the loss due respect 
to our lamented an sainted S. P. C., S. W. Starks, who had 
fallen from our ranks by the hand of death. He then gave 
the lodge into the hands of Sir. P. C. Dowan, who taking the 
stand. Then he sang a hymn. No prayer was offered by Sir. 
John N. Pempleton. Then the grand lecturer proceeded. I 
am glad to say that never was a man gifted as that man, for 
taking his text from the 5th. chapter of Ephesians, the i4th 
verse, " Words Was Wake thou that sleep." He held closest 
attention for two hours. He taking that holy scripture and 
men cried that they was going to wake up, the members said 
they was going to wake up to the sense of their obligation. 
He had us to know that the order had been ever since the 
creating of man, and would be as long as God would let man 



I2 g SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [432 

live on the earth. Dear Sirs I will say that the G. C. Sir. 
John W. H. did know his business when he appointed Sir. 
Dowan for a field man, for he is a Pythian missionary to go 
and carry the Pythian gospel if Belmont Lodge had been a 
Pythian engine, Sir Dowan would have been the engineer to 
blow the whistle at every station. Wake thou that sleep to 
your obligation. Then he spoke along the life and death of 
Sir. S. W. Starks and made things awful sad then closed his 
talk. Song was sang by Sir. Steve Tucker the prelate of his 
Lodge. Happy day when Jesus washed my sins away. Then 
Sir. John Pembleton responded. Then song was led by Sir. 
Dowan, " There is Rest for the Weary ". Then the lodge was 
called in secret prayer by the prelate for five minutes. Then 
Sir. Chas. Wood spoke on the line of Pythianism. Then song 
led by Sir Tucker, " Let Us Walk in the Light of God." Then 
Sir. C. Grandison spoke on religious principles, saying that 
he hoped to meet the S. P. C. S. W. Starks in the kingdom of 
our God, where we would all sit in the halls of heaven to part 
no more. Song led by Sir. Dowan, " I will Follow Jesus ". 
Sir Ben McCoy spoke on the death of S. W. Starks and at the 
meantime he cast the evergreen upon the alter of the lodge in 
memory of our sainted S. P. C. Then Sir. John Whitney, 
C. C., made the closing talk which made things very sad on 
the death of Sir. Starks. Then the lodge turned the vote of 
thanks and gave the grand sign in honor of the grand lecturer 
and asked him to come again. Then a memorial supper was 
served with bread and wine in remembrance of Sir. S. W. 
Starks that we all hope to meet him again, and feast with him 
around the banquet table with Jesus to hunger no more. 

From observing the ceremonies and regular services, it is 
seen that opportunity is given for many individuals to par 
ticipate in the exercises. This gives the greater degree of 
satisfaction and adds to the total of the social values offered 
by the lodge. Ritual and ceremony, ranging from simple 
form to the most elaborate details carried to ridiculous 






. 



433] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES I2 g 

extents, regalia, including hats, caps, robes, collars, badges, 
buttons, tassels, spears and swords, with gavels at the desk, 
these features are easily the popular ones. And like them 
are the officers with their titles. There are grand presi 
dents, vice-presidents, secretaries, inspectors, counsellors 
and legal advisers, wardens, marshals, chaplains, inner and 
outer sentinals, orators, speakers, writers, with speciaj forms 
of " great grand " as often as distinction is necessary. Then 
there are the same officers who are " supreme " and " great 
supreme ", " grand supreme ", " masters " and so on. There 
are " ladies " and " gentlemen ", " honorable ", " Sir " and 
" brother ", " sister ", " knights " and so forth. Such offi 
cers feel greatly honored by these offices and make much 
of them. They are also honored by their fellow members 
and " given a good time ". 

The pride which the negro leaders have in their 
offices and duties is noteworthy. Perhaps they feel much 
of social self-feeling but, nevertheless, this constitutes a 
peculiar factor. A principal of the city colored high 
school has his letter-heads prepared with " ORATOR OF 
THE MOST WORSHIPFUL STRINGER GRAND LODGE OF 
ANCIENT, FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS OF THE STATE OF 
MISSISSIPPI " in large and bold lines across the page, with 
" Principal of Colored School " in small letters in the left 
hand corner. Others have their photographs inscribed on 
the stationery with the titles attached. Nor are they alone 
in valuing their positions. The lay members as a rule put 
absolute confidence in them. A single leader often domin 
ates an entire conference by his eloquence and thus secures 
passage for measures which suit his own interests. More 
frequently two or three or perhaps a half dozen men domin 
ate the entire delegation. Their claims are enormous, but 
they are rarely doubted. Field leaders and grand secre 
taries are usually presented with a " purse " at each lodge 



130 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [434 

and they are entertained royally. Gifts of more value are 
presented to higher officers. In the report of Biennial Min 
utes of the Supreme Lodge of the Independent Order of the 
Sons and Daughters of Jacob of America is the following 
" Preface " and " Presentation " details concerning such 
a gift: 

Hon. Supreme Grand Master, and friends of this honored 
Guest : 

On the 25th. of October 1906, while all was busily planning 
the future destiny of our Order, in session of the Supreme 
Grand Lodge which convened in the city of Greenville, Sister 
Lettie J. Walker, a member of the Board of Grand Directors, 
still and deeply thinking as she is, saw very wisely what a 
beacon light of wisdom the Sons and Daughters of Jacob of 
America has as its official head; and how wisely and honestly 
he has brought the Order of Jacobs from a ridiculous to a 
sublime standard, that a spirit of highest appreciation was 
prompted to the extent that a resolution was presented by her 
to the Supreme Grand Lodge requesting the presentation of a 
diamond costing $150.00 to our Supreme Grand Master, as a 
testimonial of our honor and confidence in him. 

All honor to Sister Walker for this beautiful thought. 

Just what the diamond stud actually cost is not known. It 
was presented as well as bought by the committee of ladies. 
Like the preacher, the negro leaders of the Lodge are popu 
lar with the women. It is not surprising that he should 
accept all favors and consider himself an important factor 
in his race and a great man of the hour. Nor is it surpris 
ing that many negroes abuse their privileges and take un 
due advantages of their less watchful brethren. With the 
the chief officers of the grand lodges, this abuse is chiefly 
in the form of exorbitant demands and misuse of money and 
power given into their keeping. Few peoples have been 



435] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES I ^ I 

able to furnish more skilful tyrants, if one is to judge by 
observable data. The officers of the subordinate lodges 
manifest their abuse of office in the same manner, only to 
a smaller degree. Their chief fault and abuse lies in their 
over-bearing disposition toward fellow members and those 
who wish to apply for membership. Such leaders are often 
governed wholly by personal motives and refuse naember- 
ship to any whom they dislike. Consequently much strife 
arises and not infrequently ends in more serious difficulties, 
some of which are referred to the Supreme Orders. Again, 
the officers of subordinate lodges are boisterous and severe 
in their rulings at regular business sessions, often abusing 
and belittling members of the order, for the simple reason 
that they are in a position to do so, and wish to show their 
authority ; they thus feel their positions more weighty. Few 
more ridiculous acts could be imagined. This state of af 
fairs, however, is not entirely neglected by the supreme 
officers. In a conclusion to his annual address before the 
Session of the Grand Lodge of United Brothers and Sisters 
of Benevolence of America, the Grand President said : 

Permit me to note here that we are informed reliable that a 
great many of the Presidents and other officers of our Local 
Societies are very rude in their rulings and treatment of mem 
bers, or in other words, are of the opinion that they are the 
bosses of the societies instead of the servants which they are. 
That state of affairs should not exist, yet on the other hand 
they should be kind, obbliging and courteous at any and all 
times under the most trying circumstances to give good and 
wholesome instructions. Such treatment to the most illiterate, 
boisterous and obstreperous person will have good effect. 

Again officers are often elected without due process and 
then they refuse to be governed by any law save their own 
wishes. One of the chief violations of the law is refusal 



1^2 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [436 

to give bond for the holding of money belonging to the 
lodge; still they are retained as officers, chiefly, perhaps, 
because there are no others, and because this state of affairs 
is quite common. Many other complaints are made of local 
officers, such as ignoring the rules and regulations, failure 
to dre^s properly and to conduct the meetings and opera 
tions decently. 

Before coming to a final surhmary of the features which 
are determining factors in the negro fraternal organizations, 
it is well to note certain general conditions under which they 
operate and the general relation fraternal circles bear to 
negro life and opinion. A partial glimpse of the many 
phases of the Lodge may be gained from the facts cited 
above. It is to be expected that anything which occupies so 
prominent a place in the life of a people would be vastly 
beneficial to them and would have the support of the lead 
ing members of the race. Nor is our expectation disap 
pointed, for a comparison of the church membership rolls 
with those of the fraternal orders shows that prominent 
church leaders are in most cases leading lodge members. 
The majority of negro preachers are prominent in fraternal 
circles. The secret society finds its ablest advocates in the 
teachers of the schools and those prominent in negro busi 
ness circles. Practically the entire professional calling, in 
cluding the few lawyers and physicians, are enrolled as lead 
ers. Again, non-church-members are intimately associated 
with church members both as officers and as " lay " mem 
bers of the lodge. But while the majority of the negroes 
value the relations made possible by the fraternal organiza 
tions more than all others, there is a minority, however, 
that is agreed that the secret society is fast becoming an evil. 
Close students of the situation are undecided whether the 
centre of negro life is not being shifted from the Church 
to the Lodge. If such is the case, it is to be expected that 



437] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

there would be found serious objections to lodge life as it 
is now being developed. This objection is maintained 
chiefly by certain negro preachers, among whom are some of 
their ablest workers. The question which must be an 
swered, then, is : Does the good overbalance the evil ? In 
answer to this inquiry, certain important considerations 
should be noted. 

The majority maintains, as may be observed in rfie claims 
of the secret orders, that through such societies many 
benefits come to the members of the race that are rendered 
necessary by the conditions under which the colored people 
live. The lodges care for the sick, look after unfortunate, 
bury the dead, and give funds to the family of the deceased 
members. In return for this each member pays only a 
small assessment, entirely within his means, varying accord 
ing to the benefits received. All assessments are paid in 
installments, either weekly, monthly or quarterly. The 
dues for membership vary from ten to twenty-five cents 
a week and from ten cents to a dollar a month. They 
hold further that these expenses are not draining upon the 
Negro and return him many times their original value, and 
that the fraternal order is of practical benefit to the Negro 
both in the quality of service rendered and in the methods of 
collecting dues; it thus renders a racial service. It is a 
great consolation to the Negro to know that he will be buried 
with proper ceremonies and his grave properly marked. 
This appeals to a fundamental principal in the Negro s 
nature; there are few greater events than the burial, and 
none which brings the community together in more charac 
teristic attitude. The funeral is a social event, for which 
the lodge appropriates the necessary expenses. Here the 
religious trend of the Negro is magnified and with praise 
of the dead and hopes for the future he mingles religious 
fervor with morbid curiosity and love of display. But the 




SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [438 

society not only buries its members but also cares for them 
while living. Many cases are cited by the negroes of as 
sistance rendered at the critical moment. Persons, sick, 
old and feeble have been known to be left alone to die within 
a short distance of neighbors, and were buried by the town 
authorities. Nor were they more destitute of friends before 
they became sick than are hundreds of negroes everywhere. 
The Negro is thus willing to admit the condition of his 
people, knowing that some obligation must be brought to 
bear upon them if they are to become brotherly and sisterly 
in the true sense. The lodge undoubtedly approximates 
this, for the Negro regards the obligation placed upon him 
by his society as binding; no member must lack burial, and 
the sick committees go far toward helping the helpless. 

Furthermore, the negroes are a working people and de 
pend entirely upon their wages for a livelihood. They 
have little or no property which would render them funds 
for the " rainy day ", and are therefore helpless and de 
pendent in times of sickness or accident. It is essential 
that the negro and his family be protected by his member 
ship in one or more of the lodges. Such membership will 
insure him against starvation and dire want, at least, will 
assure him of visits from his people which he would not 
otherwise get, and render him secure in a reasonable degree. 
No one will deny that under such conditions as the negroes 
labor to-day there is urgent need for just such organizations 
among the negroes. Again, in addition to the relief fea 
tures and the social phase of the fraternal orders, the secret 
societies furnish the Negro a means for united effort. It 
satisfies a social want, which is unceasing in its demand ; it 
satisfies an imperative demand for benefits, and it satisfies 
the craving of the Negro to exert his racial and individual 
ambitions. Here he may rule his own affairs and plan his 
own business; he is more nearly united here than elsewhere. 



439] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

He may discuss subjects of interest to his race; he becomes 
informed of events and discusses them without the white 
man s knowing it. The rapidity with which information is 
diffused throughout a negro community is scarcely less than 
marvelous, especially when the news relates to matters of 
racial interest. The lodge is a means whereby this inter 
change of information is facilitated; this is an essential 
benefit, according to the Negro s ablest advocates. Again, 
the Negro teaches himself to speak, to debate, to become an 
" orator " in the halls of his secret society. He learns the 
rules and regulations of his society as he learns nothing else. 
He reads or listens to the news of his lodge paper when he 
would otherwise not care for the reading. He is thus be 
ing educated slowly and this training appeals to him when 
no other school interests him. So the secret societies, com 
bined, offer an effective medium through which the negroes 
can move with facility and satisfaction. They offer pride 
and enthusiasm. Here are found opportunities for organi 
zation and business. They may organize and drill after the 
manner of armies. Their children are trained for future 
service and their women are united with their men. The 
lodge more than anything else offers means for the uniting 
of communities, counties, states and the negroes of the na 
tion. Such are some of the advantages claimed by the 
majority of negroes. 

It is claimed, too, that the fraternal associations are 
helping to solve the race problem. And well might they 
assist in so great an undertaking. Here is opportunity 
for teaching honesty and diligence; they might teach for 
bearance and persistency and the doctrine of damnation to 
criminals and those who shield them, and that no criminal 
should have a place in the brotherhood of associations. Here 
better than any other place they can teach true race pride 
and encourage honest endeavor toward proper advance- 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [440 

ment in all lines. But do they do this? It is encouraging 
to note that many orders draw up and endorse fitting reso 
lutions at their general meetings and these are given to the 
public in good faith in the great majority of instances. 
They are the result of proper enthusiasm. Such resolutions 
at bQth general assemblies and local orders, backed by the 
members will assist much in bettering the present conditions 
that exist irrthe relations between the races. They will assist 
greatly in raising the standard of civilization among the 
negroes. Recent utterances of the leaders at these meetings 
have voiced the proper sentiment. 

" Above all the Negro must uphold law and order. " We 
are willing to join the better class of white people at any 
time in putting down the criminal class." " Tell it so all the 
world may hear print it in the heaven s blue, so that he 
who runs may read it, that the negro of this land will frown 
down, cry down, hunt down and strike down this crime and 
these criminals, until not one shall be left in all the land, and 
a black face be a badge of truth, of peace, of protection to 
innocence." " It is our duty to seek the haunts and the in 
fluences that produce crime and criminals, with the whip of the 
law and the gospel of righteousness scourge them until vicious 
idleness shall give place to virtuous industrial intelligence, and 
thus purge ourselves and wash away the foul stains of dishonor 
from a glorious record transmitted to us by our fathers, al 
though but poor slaves." " We cannot afford to apologize for 
crime we cannot afford to sympathize with the criminals. 
We can only afford to do right and fear not before God and 
the laws of our country. All of this we can do. We can be 
come the little leaven that shall leaven the whole lump; the 
grain of salt which preserves your whole community, your 
ward, county, state, until your whole community becomes 
known as a center of health-giving energy for the race." 
" What a negro will be depends entirely upon what his attitude 



441 ] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

is toward himself as well as toward other people. The negro 
must develop in his own sphere as a negro, after his own na 
ture, and then he will succeed. He should not attempt to get 
away from his black skin, discard his kinks, be ashamed of 
his physical features in general. But let him strengthen his 
face on the inside, whiten his face through his heart, adorn 
his physical features through his intelligence, magnify and 
exalt himself in the recognition of the civilized world. He 
will be respected in proportion as he respects himself." 

These are commendable utterances and should the inward 
meaning be greater than the outward form, these orders 
would deservedly win a permanent place in the life of the 
Negro. 

But the Fraternal Orders must meet certain serious ob 
jections which are offered by members of both races. Re 
ference has already been made to one of these. The Lodge 
is interfering seriously with the Church and conflicting with 
many of its services. A minority of leaders among the 
negroes hold the view that the fraternal organizations are 
for this reason an evil, but a minority which includes many 
of the most sincere men and some of the clearest thinkers, 
who are themselves members of fraternal organizations. 
TEe greater part of this number is to be found among the 
pastors of the churches. The charge is thus stated by one : 

The evil effect of secret societies upon the church of God here 
in the South is becoming to be a serious problem. We should 
study this problem closely and prayerfully. In the first place 
the Christian people and members of our different denomina 
tional churches have gone into these societies mixed in such a 
way with sinners and whiskey drinkers and with women whose 
garments have been dragged in the ditches of immoral despair 
and degradation until you can t tell one from the other. Even 
this degraded sinner thinks himself as good as the Christian, 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [442 

consequently the Christian is forced by his obligation to call 
that drunkard and whiskey-head brother. Hence the standard 
of religion is lowered and the sinner exalted in all his un- 
repented-for sins; therefore both are injured. Come out from 
among them and be ye not partakers of their sins. Many of 
these little dupe societies give public balls and disgraceful 
dances to advertise their society interests. In many cases 
sinner men and women are the " head bursters " of these 
societies and the Christian people who join them must come in 
at their command and do whatever they say, right or wrong. 
If it is to violate religious principle, the chief has said it and 
his orders must be obeyed. Christians should lead sinners in 
all things and in all places until they are led to the Cross of 
Christ. Christians, open your eyes and let not the blind lead 
you. In nearly all of these societies the Holy Bible is used 
and sinners are to handle that sacred book whose hands and 
hearts are unwashed. This seems to be almost sacriligious and 
downright profanity. We must not be ignorant of these awful 
sins that are confronting us in our everyday life. This is a 
serious problem. Sinners and halfway Christians are now 
saying that their reason for supporting so many of these little 
dupe societies is that they will do for them what the church 
will not do, namely : bury them and give them sick benefits ; 
they have an endowment for them or their family. In answer 
to this trashy saying, let me say this : if they will put all the 
money in the church that they put in the secret societies the 
church will be able and will bury them when they die, give 
them sick benefits when sick, and care for the widows left and 
educate and care for the children left as orphans. Put all of 
your grand lodge money and expenses to and from all your 
supreme lodges in a common church treasury and the church 
will meet your every demand and need at much less expense. 

Another shameful evil is this: Our Class Meetings are 
growing dull with but little Spiritual fervor, because the mem 
bers are all gone to meet their society. They cannot go to the 
class meeting because Brother or Sister So and So will fine me. 



443] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

Therefore the class leader who tries to be faithful must go and 
lead the benches a sad spectacle indeed : The prayer meetings 
are nearly all dead because deserted by the members gone to the 
lodge, the prayer meeting having to be upon his lodge night ; 
therefore he shows to the Church and to his God that he loves 
the lodge better than communion with God. The Ladies and 
Stewards meetings, the Quarterly conferences, and even our 
revival meetings are all affected by these societies. A brother 
or sister will tell you at once that they must meet their lodge 
or had to go to their lodge. These are serious sins and a sad 
problem now before the church of God. Must this state of 
affairs continue to exist? or shall we now in the name of 
Christ stop and reform? God grant that our people will stop 
before it is too late. I appeal to my race: Stop now and 
return to God, else we perish and the societies will perish 
with us. Some people are so ignorant as to say that the so 
ciety is as good as the church. Oh, my, what ignorance: No 
one would say that but a poor, blind, ignorant sinner whose 
eyes are blind with scales. I have been criticised for writing 
my convictions on these things, but I wish to say to the public 
that I am paid a salary. The people I serve pay me what 
they promise and I am not on a beg, and I ask for nothing 
more than a comfortable support. I write this because I see 
the awful pit into which my poor people are being thrown, 
duped and dumped. Now, Brother Preachers, let us return 
to our pulpits and give ourselves wholly to the service of God 
and the salvation of the sinners, the sick, the dying, the poor, 
the needy, the widows and orphans need our attention daily. 
Get the people to come back to the church. Let us have a 
great revival of religion. 

Many pastors have stated privately the opposition already 
expressed. A single statement will be given : 

Against these societies we have our churches whose total 
membership is less than half the total membership of the so- 



I4 o SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [444 

cieties. From my own experience, I can safely say that they 
hinder the church in every way. I was compelled to move my 
official board from a week night and hold it on Sunday after 
noon as there is not a single week night in the month that some 
of the official members are not called by some of the societies 
and they almost invariably go to the call of the society when 
they will not to the call of the church. 

It is charged by the whites that these societies are hot 
beds of vice and that incendiary views are promoted; that 
they not only do not help to solve the race problem, but 
daily make the situation worse. It is charged that these 
meetings are often plotting places where groups of ne 
groes devise plans and encourage thoughts against the white 
man; that they go beyond race pride and interest to race 
antagonism. In answer to these charges it must be said 
that some of these -meetings do discuss improper subjects, 
and that indecent pictures are sometimes hung on the walls, 
and that there is little or no restraint upon criminal instinct. 
It is true that in many cases the tendency is toward unrest 
in matters pertaining to the relations between the races. But 
in the ordinary meetings in the smaller communities this is 
not true. Except in particular sections and under particu 
lar circumstances, there are not the agreed councils against 
the white man ; many of these meetings of groups of mem 
bers are purely proper enjoyment of their own personal 
rights and pleasures. The lodge meeting is naturally 
regarded as a place where all matters may be discussed but 
for the most part the glaring headlines in the newspapers 
describing negro lodges as storehouses for ammunition and 
plotting places against the whites, are written by men who 
know little of the real facts about the Negro and who are 
willing to distort the truth for the sake of a sensational 
report. But it should be remembered that so long as any 



445] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES I4I 

number of lodges make a practice of such agitation as has 
been mentioned, the above charge will be true. Perhaps 
there is yet a noticeable fruitage of that old organization 
known as the Union League which followed the war having 
as its basic principle the consolidation of the negroes against 
the whites. There are traces and remnants in many of the 
Southern towns and passing talk of organizations similar 
to the Before-day clubs which regularly train their mem 
bers in incendiary motives ; which prescribe immediate death 
as a penalty for divulging the secrets of the organization. 
These are a menace to all good societies and the sooner all 
traces of such groups are obliterated the better it will be for 
all concerned. There are many negroes who advocate ex 
treme measures in their excitement, and they easily obtain 
a following. Such negroes are doing their race more dam 
age than can be eradicated. And on the other hand the 
misguided doctrinaires and the greedy fools who instill in 
cendiary ideas into the minds of the negroes, regardless of 
the wreck and carnage which must follow, are the leaders 
most dangerous of all to the race. It is of prime importance 
that the negroes be free at all times from all appearance of 
evil in this respect. The Federation of Women s Clubs, if 
they desire to accomplish what they profess, should keep 
this tremendous fact in mind and stop the present-day ten 
dency toward unrest, which is prominent in many of the 
secret societies of which women constitute the membership. 
If they will assist their men in substantial achievement, 
they will, among many other things, see that agitation 
against the whites need not be a characteristic feature of 
their local meetings. The height of folly and idiotic 
thoughtlessness is to be found in such agitations; putting 
aside the purposes of the benefit societies, and not knowing 
that they are utterly incapable of discussing any revolution- 



I 4 2 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [446 

ary measures relating to labor or any other topic, these 
groups bring untold permanent hurt to the race. 

Other serious objections are offered. The lodge is a 
waste of time and energy for the negroes. It takes them 
away from home and work and renders them useless for 
anything else, while the lodge itself offers no permanent 
substitute. The lodge is an unreasonable drain upon the 
Negro s money. He must attend the local meetings, pay 
the assessments for membership, local extras imposed by 
the whim of some tyrant leader, the extra fees for the su 
preme and grand lodges, and the dozens of other expenses 
involved from time to time in regalia and special functions. 
Representatives must attend the general sessions and for 
this they must have certain requirements and must pay their 
expenses to and from the convention. Foolish gifts and 
appropriations are made on every hand; the expenses of 
these must be met, and there is no material benefit from 
them. The handling of money and the power to make as 
sessments encourages the spirit of dishonesty and graft 
among the negroes. The present methods of the lodge en 
courage, to the fullest extent, superficiality and display, the 
very things which need to be regulated among the negroes. 
While the rules and regulations are good, there is little con 
formity to them, hence the increased disregard for drill, 
order and systematic action. In fine, the lodge is the great 
est of those factors which lead the Negro to neglect the sub 
stantial groundwork of his economic and moral salvation. 
It shifts his efforts from the detailed accumulation of prop 
erty and the attainment of individual worth to the popular 
general achievements. It leads him to magnify and over 
value the outside without due consideration of essential 
qualities. 

Again, however, it is but just to give the negro s interests 
full consideration. Even though the defects seem much in 



447] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

the majority, it is but fair to sum up the better qualities 
and the purposes for which the societies are founded. The 
constitution and by-laws of the several societies differ only 
in details and are for the most part very much alike. The 
length varies from ten to fifteen thousand words, accord 
ing as particulars are stressed or features are added. There 
are great possibilities in the fraternal order conducted ac 
cording to the constitution and by-laws. All of the so 
cieties incorporate in their requirements for admission to 
membership that persons shall be moral and upright, dealing 
in no illegal business and of good reputation. The purposes 
of the orders are thus seen to be of the highest order and 
would seem to be the exact essentials for the race. Reli 
gious devotion is an important feature. Their societies are 
devoted to many virtues. One holds that " In union there is 
strength " another, " At the bar of universal justice right 
reigns supreme " ; another, is devoted to " friendship, love 
and truth," while still another is devoted to " Virtue, Pur 
ity, Honesty and Prosperity." Others are devoted avow 
edly to the same purposes and incorporate the best senti 
ments possible in their mottoes. For instance, take the 
closing ceremony for the laying of the corner stone as an 
example of high and noble purpose expressed in words : 

In the name of virtue I scatter this earth on this stone typical 
of the moral excellence and charity of our Order and as a 
reminder that we are of the dust and to dust we shall return. 
In the name of purity I sow this grain in this earth typical 
of the manner members of our Order who are of themselves 
free from dirt enter walks of life and force moral cleanness 
upon men. I in the name of honesty and to promote pros 
perity sprinkle this earth and this grain with water, may the 
favors of God rest and be daily with the people of this build 
ing and those of this community as they go into abide within 



144 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [448 

and pass out of its portals. As the moments of time pass 
away may all men especially all Jacobs love, worship, and 
adore Thee, and the four principles of Jacobism, virtue, purity, 
honesty, and prosperity, hold in esteem the name and teaching 
of God. 

And indeed many of the local leaders profess to rule by 
standards of morality and claim that they expel or suspend 
members who are unworthy of the lodge. As a fact the 
records show that many are actually suspended. Reproof 
is most common for violating the laws of the order, for mis 
appropriation of funds, for non-payment of dues, for im 
morality, for unlawful co-habitation, for disturbing har 
mony of order, for theft, for fighting, the time of suspension 
varying from two weeks to twenty-five years. Expulsion 
occurred for murder, theft, receiving money on false pre 
tense, misappropriation of lodge funds, unlawful co-habita 
tion, and one case was recorded of expulsion for ninety-nine 
years for burglary. Many of these names are published, 
and the Negro has no sympathy or mercy when he once be 
gins upon an unfortunate brother. 

Attention should be called to the Federation of Colored 
Women s Clubs which holds an annual meeting, in much 
the same way as do the whites. \Vhile it would seem that 
little practical work is done by these women, it is necessary 
to note the better side of their work. Here enthusiasm is 
as evident as at the other clubs and they rise for the mo 
ment " above the petty affairs of the world." They might 
well do a great work under better environment; perhaps 
the value of their labors is not felt and will in the end work 
much good. They are not excelled by the fraternal or 
ganizations, at least in the expression of noble purposes. 
The following is a statement given out from the state meet 
ing of Mississippi : 



ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

These women with human hearts and souls that reach up to 
glorify a pure Creator are being awakened to a moral and 
true virtuous consciousness that has been lying dead more than 
two hundred years. The colored women of the state met in 
convention declaring to the world that Negro woman stands 
as high and firm for true moral virtue as any other woman 
that lives. The meeting was so enthusiastic that every woman 
that was present wished that her absent sister were $iere. It 
was an encouragement to every struggling sister for true 
womanhood to meet others of her kind. No class of persons 
could be more elated than Negro men to know that ere long 
they will not be scorned because of the immorality of their 
women. Many a young lady was made virtuously strong in 
that meeting and each would do untold good should she go 
back to her home and community and there be a shining light 
among the others in an attractive way. There can be no better 
way of establishing virtue among both women and men than 
through the medium of the Federation. 

If this were only true and if practical lives could only bear 
out the enthusiastic word testimony, how rapidly would the 
race begin to rise. It is thus seen that the outward pur 
poses of the Negro organizations are of the right sort. 
What then is lacking? 

What is a true estimate of the Negro fraternal organiza 
tion and benevolent society ? What accounts for their mar 
velous success and growth? Wherein do they fail in fun 
damentals and essentials and how can they be made better ? 
A proper estimate is scarcely possible with the data in hand 
and at this stage of their development. It may be well, 
however, to note the essential characteristics of the main 
operations. The outside student is astonished at the re 
markable benefits paid by the insurance and benevolent so 
cieties. How can they make and sustain such claims, even 
with double the amount of assessments charged for mem- 



I4 6 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [450 

bership? And yet few claims are unpaid and few instances 
have occurred of failure of the society. And this is in the 
face of the undisputed fact that many funds are used by the 
chief officers and others are badly managed and often lost 
in a business project. The officers are paid good salaries, 
ranging from four hundred to seventeen hundred dollars 
per annum. A number of records show that amounts vary 
ing from one hundred to fifteen hundred dollars have been 
misapprpopriated. How then does the lodge meet its de 
mands? In the first place, the first assessments and the 
regular membership fees are only a relative part of the de 
mands. Reference has already been made to the numerous 
extras that are demanded constantly. Fines from subor 
dinate lodges go to swell the total amount. Charters are 
sold at from five to fifty dollars; seals range from two to 
ten dollars and every lodge is required to have one. The 
official organs in some instances assist in raising this money. 
From the beginning of the year to its end, the poor negro 
lodge member is beset with calls for money on all hands. 
In the second place, perhaps one-half of the members who 
join the orders do not remain in good standing long enough 
to receive the benefits therefrom. As their enthusiasm 
wanes and times become harder, they allow their dues to 
lapse and thus forfeit what they have already paid. They 
thus receive no benefits and cause the supreme lodge no 
outlay, while at the same time they have contributed much 
to its support. These funds remain in the treasury. While 
the total membership of the lodge is usually on the increase, 
it is quite a different membership each year. The field 
workers keep enthusiasm up from place to place and gain 
new members. And almost as large a number of renewals 
is made each year as of new members. Such members pay 
extra assessments for the privilege of renewing, which also 
helps to increase the treasury fund. Again, many of the 



451 ] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

lodges provide that, when they are unable to meet the pay 
ment to the beneficiaries of the deceased, a pro-rata assess 
ment is made upon each member, thus insuring the amount. 
Perhaps one-half of the societies are " mutual " in this re 
spect and are governed according to the jurisdiction of 
their leaders. In this way and by combining all the forces, 
the negro lodge pays its insurance and benefits wjth com 
parative ease. 

The question naturally arises as to the degree to which 
the purposes of the Lodge as set forth in the constitution 
and by-laws are adhered to in the practical working of the 
lodges. And the question is both important and difficult. 
The majority of subordinate lodges are wholly unable to 
interpret the constitution and by-laws as they should be 
known. They are rarely a practical factor as a whole; cer 
tain parts are learned as favorites and the local lodge sup 
plies the rest according to its own pleasure. Thus it is with 
the organization of lodges, the giving of bond for the offi 
cers, and the receiving and retaining of members. The 
average negro is incompetent to enact any of the require 
ments strictly and continually. He may do so for a few 
meetings, but he soon grows careless. Consequently the 
headquarters must needs send constant threats and warn 
ings in order to keep the lodges going at all. And too 
often, the supreme officers themselves are equally careless 
and incompetent, caring only for the general appearance 
and the possibility of getting as much money for the lodge as 
possible. In fine, the evidence shows that the great ma 
jority of irregularities are unnoticed ; regulations are thus a 
farce. So it is with the moral influence which the lodge 
exercises over the community. While cases are tried and 
members are actually suspended, the great majority go un 
noticed. Personal dislike and malice, jealousy and the sense 
of superiority have much to do with the officer s action. 



I 4 g SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [452 

The matter may be stated by saying that principles are sub 
ordinated to an occasion, and as a moral factor in practice 
are worth little. Like the church, in practical life, the 
lodge excuses the criminal instead of raising the moral 
standard. There is strife and discord abundant in the in 
ternal workings of the lodge. Here again, the poor Negro 
must battle with his inheritance and with his environment. 
He follows the lines of least resistance and his battle is lost. 
Like the problem of the home, church and school, the prob 
lem of the lodge may be explained by saying that the maxi 
mum good, which might come from these organizations 
under better circumstances, is turned into evil or at least 
the minimum good by the overwhelming odds of environ 
ment. The Negro at his present stage cannot help his 
superficiality and love of display. 

Can the Negro begin to apply himself through the medium 
of his societies to the individual and home? Can he learn 
that he must solve the fundamental problems of his race 
on a small scale rather than long for world-conquest? Is 
he willing to face the situation, give up his superficiality 
and devote himself to the betterment of his condition? Is 
he willing to take the problems one by one and meet them 
face to face? One of the negro leaders sets forth a great 
motto, "A Black Face a Badge of Truth, of Peace, of Pro 
tection to Innocence ". And well might they strive for such 
an attainment. In this school of adults in which the Negro 
finds most of his politics, he might also find a great school 
for moral training where a higher ethical standard can be 
raised. To the Southern white man, the face of an inno 
cent and industrious colored person appeals as few other 
things do; assistance and encouragement are always the re 
wards of such individuals. The finer type of Southern 
white stands firmly for justice to such negroes even to the 
jeopardy of the protector s own interests. The good white 



453] ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES 

man s respect for such negroes is little short of admiration 
and he is anxious to help him along. Can the negro secret 
societies of the present day assist in raising the average of 
negro character, institute simple campaigns for industry 
and hygiene, and strive to better the relations between the 
races by effectually instilling principles of moral life into the 
race? The negroes have a noble inheritance in the deeds 
of many fathers and mothers, whose principles of fidelity 
and application are worthy of copy. Will the fraternal or 
ganizations and benevolent societies at least study the situa 
tion and become followers of the faithful fathers ? 



CHAPTER IV 
THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS OF THE NEGRO 

INDIVIDUAL character is inseparably connected with pure 
homes, and to the social and political organism the home is 
the first essential. The home is the most cherished posses 
sion that we have; it is first in our hearts and in our 
actions. For home and loved ones we live and work; we 
love them better than ourselves, and because of them we 
attain whatever of worth is consistent with the best that is 
in us. The scenes in the home bring to us the brightest 
pictures our hearts can fancy and awaken the tenderest feel 
ings of which our beings are capable. We do not forgive 
the stranger who enters, not knowing the traditions and 
habits of the inmates, and criticizes the arrangement of 
home or looks upon any part of it with contempt. For the 
home and the family are one ; they constitute the " funda 
mental problem of civilization," the first institution that 
makes for the higher development of man. With the home 
preserved intact, a race is safe and ready for individual and 
national greatness. In proportion as the home life of a 
community is of a high order, to that degree will the com 
munity make for moral and civic righteousness; with the 
home and family neglected, nothing can long uphold a race. 
For no people can live above their home life. 

If the circumstances and conditions which make up the 
basis for home life are almost wholly lacking in a people; 
if there is no deep impulse to cherish the home with par 
ents, wife and children; if there is no desire to find true 
150 [454 



455] THE HOME LIFE > DIS ^ ASES AND MORALS i$i 

homes and improve them, surely the leaders of such a 
people would recognize the dire necessity to which they 
have come. What strivings ought there to be for knowl 
edge of these dangerous conditions and for the realization 
of any aspirations for better things on the part of leaders 
and those most interested ! What efforts would be put forth 
to make race leaders capable of establishing models of pur 
ity and ideals of life ! And yet, is not such a people in our 
midst? Side by side, worshiping the same God and serv 
ing the same commonwealths as the whites, the Negro s 
life may almost be described by saying that these funda 
mentals are thus lacking. Their first and crying need is for 
home life and training. And while there is much unpleas 
antness and dissatisfaction in criticizing as a " stranger " 
the habitations of these people, it is necessary for all con 
cerned to paint the picture from life, to see things as they 
are. And to speak truthfully concerning the Negro at home, 
the purity of plainness must be observed. 

The majority of the negroes, as a rule, live in the inferior 
sections of the town and occupy inferior houses. There 
may be distinguished three subdivisions of negro inhabi 
tants of the community: those who live in a better negro 
section of the town, those who are segregated in a poorer 
and more barren negro division, and those who live in the 
midst of the whites in servant-houses or cottages near the 
white residences. In the first class are the majority of the 
more prosperous negroes in the community, some twenty- 
five per cent of whom own their homes. The proportion of 
better houses occupied by negroes is greatest in this section. 
Such sections of the town, being in the nature of a negro 
town, often receive various names: Freeman s Town, Lib 
erty Hill, Macedonia, Improvement, Rising Sun, and so on. 
In the second division, the houses are more thickly grouped 
and the majority of them are inferior in size and condition, 



I5 2 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [456 

if compared with those of the first division, though many 
of the best negroes live in this section. Few own their 
homes; they rent from whites, many of whom have built 
cottages purely for the income which may be derived from 
them. Sometimes the houses are rented from negroes. In 
this division of the negro inhabitants may be found the 
most typical common life. The houses are not good and 
are often far from comfortable; the windows are without 
glass, the coverings let in wind and rain, the rooms are 
small. Few of the houses are painted either externally 
or on the inside. This section, also, receives various names, 
such as Rabbitskip, Sheriff s Hill, Gullensville, Shakerag, 
Needmore. The two negro sections mentioned are ordi 
narily in opposite parts of the towns. The third class, num 
bering some twenty per cent of the entire negro population 
of the community, includes many of the most industrious 
negroes; among them may be found many of the best 
homes and much of the best negro life. Taken as a whole, 
the average negro house presents an exterior with the ap 
pearance of neglect; the yards are not kept and rubbish of 
various kinds is much in evidence. Except for the wood 
pile, the axe, the clothes-line and utensils for washing, the 
appearance of many negro houses would indicate that they 
were unoccupied. The inmates are, however, apparently 
satisfied. 

The houses of the community may be described under 
three divisions. Number one will represent the best quality 
of houses, number two the medium, and number three the 
sorry. If the houses of the whites be divided into three 
classes according to quality, number three is as good as the 
best houses of the negroes. If the negro abodes be thus 
divided, number one will make some fifteen per cent of the 
total number of houses, number two about thirty per cent, 
and number three over fifty per cent. If they be classified 



THE HOME LIFE; DISEASES AND MORALS 

again according to the number of rooms, about fifteen per 
cent have only one room, about fifty per cent have two 
rooms, about twenty per cent have three rooms, and five or 
ten per cent have more than three rooms. The proportion 
of houses with more than four rooms is exceedingly small 
and varies with the prosperity of the community of negro 
individuals. In the larger towns and cities, exceptions are 
more numerous. The average size, then, is about two 
rooms, the average family consists of four persons. A con 
siderable number of negro women live alone, occupying 
ten to fifteen per cent of the total number of cottages ; many 
others live in small cottages with their children, there being 
some ten per cent of the total number of families with a 
woman at the head. The proportion of parents without 
legitimate children is large, in general from fifteen to twenty 
per cent of the families. On the other hand, besides the 
typical family of three, four, five, and six members, many 
have from seven to twelve, although relatively few are 
found with more than eight or nine. Quite a number of in 
dividual instances have been noted where a family of ten, 
eleven, twelve, and even fourteen, have occupied a cottage 
of two and three rooms. Such a family may include the 
daughter who has been deserted by her husband, or who 
has deserted him, or an unmarried daughter with one or 
two children. A physician reported an extreme case of 
fourteen living in two rooms, and when brought to his 
attention there were four cases of pneumonia, three of 
which were fatal; and the case, while extreme, is far from 
exceptional. It is true, however, that the average family 
among the negroes is not so large as in former years. 

In such crowded quarters not infrequently in one room 
must exist the entire family with living apparatus. The 
interior of the houses is not better than the exterior. With 
a bedstead or two, or couch, box, tables, bureau, dresser, 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [458 

tubs and basins, buckets and cooking utensils, one would 
scarcely expect the conditions to be conducive to comfort 
or health. In addition to these, accumulations of worth 
less articles serve to make the room more crowded. A box 
or corner of the room with rags, strings, pieces of ropes, 
boxes, papers, attractive circulars, and various trinkets to 
gether with articles kept for superstitious reasons contribute 
to the general trash. However, pictures may be seen on 
the walls. They are usually nicely framed, being bought 
from agents. Enlarged photographs of the members of the 
family, the Lord s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and 
certificates of membership to fraternal and insurance soci 
eties are the most common. The negroes value their mem 
bership certificates to secret societies very highly, and often 
undergo hardships to get them framed. Sometimes they 
leave them to be framed, and do not call for them until sev 
eral months afterwards. As soon as the money can be 
spared, however, they return and call for them. Generally 
the furniture is of a fairly good quality; this is usually 
bought on the instalment plan, when such is possible. The 
article is not infrequently half paid for, when the negro 
decides he does not want it or cannot meet the required 
payments, and it is then forfeited to the dealer. Likewise 
costly articles of no practical value, clocks, sewing-machines 
which are little used, organs are bought at the persuasion 
of the agent. In the case of the organ, it may be little used, 
or perhaps no one in the family can play it; but it has its 
attraction and answers a purpose. The Negro s question 
before marrying is not whether he can support a family, 
but whether he has anything to go in the house. 

With such crowded conditions habits of uncleanness nat 
urally grow. A glance inside the average negro cottage is 
most discouraging. The negroes themselves have described 
the picture in a number of songs. Says one of a house 
where he had been courting : 



4591 THE HOME LIFE DISEASES AND MORALS 155 

Clothes all dirty ain t got no broom, 
Old dirty clothes all hanging in de room, 

lines which exactly portray the room. Another complains 
of grease and dirt, while another stanza goes : 

Honey, babe, honey babe, bring me de broom, 
De lices and de chinches bout to take my room. 

; 

It will thus be seen that even with the above-mentioned 

conditions the home is not without much disorder. Add to 
these the further conditions under which the negroes must 
earn a livelihood. With those who do laundry work, be 
sides the living apparatus, the soiled laundry is kept in the 
house, and in stormy weather the washing and drying of 
the clothes, as well as the ironing, must be done in the 
house. The men come in with dirty clothes ; the nature of 
their work makes this necessary. There is not time, even 
were the disposition present, to keep the house clean. 
Throughout the day the negro home is full of haste and 
disorder. The mother who cooks for a white family is up 
and off early in the morning, leaving the children uncared- 
for at home; the man soon leaves also for his work. The 
children thus have no care and attention, nor do they al 
ways get breakfast; often they must wait for the return 
of the mother, who brings something from the table of the 
whites. Not infrequently this is late in the morning; so 
it is with the other meals. It is often late in the evening 
before she returns from her last duties, and then she wishes 
to go out among her friends or to some gathering. And 
too often, in spite of duties, which she does not recognize 
as such, she does go. In the meantime the household is 
kept together as best it may be under such circumstances. 
Not only the cooking, but laundry for two or three 
families is the part of the more industrious negro women, 



! 5 6 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [460 

which but adds to the duties of the day and consequent 
neglect of home. The children who attend school at all 
must be gotten ready with little care. The men who are 
regularly employed are at home little of the time, and those 
who do not work regularly are more of a hindrance than 
assistance. The negro woman is not unfrequently the head 
of the negro family. Many negro men loaf about the home, 
depending upon their wives and children to support them, 
while they work a little here and there and abuse the family. 
On the other hand, there are many women who refuse to 
do any kind of work and at the same time they completely 
neglect the affairs at home. The husband must return in 
the morning and make the fires, get the wife something to 
eat, besides doing many trivial things which please her 
fancy; and unless he does all that she requires of him, she 
threatens him with infidelity. Sometimes the man s pa 
tience is exhausted and he leaves her; usually he endures it 
and is all the more " foolish " about his wife. A negro 
thirty years of age lived with his wife and child, a boy of 
six years, in a cottage of two rooms; his place of work 
was within a few yards of his home. This negro would 
often leave his work and run over to the " house " more 
than a dozen times a day. This evidently had two bases, 
the one because he wanted to please her by showing his 
attention he was very " foolish bout his babe/ the other 
because he feared the constant threats of his wife, that she 
would let some " rounder " in. During a single week they 
have quarreled and separated three times; but as soon as 
separated they would become reconciled again. Often the 
wife would run out of the house screaming for help; this 
she did to make him do what she wanted; at other times 
she maintained that " her ole man " had threatened to kill 
her, a thing which he admitted the threat at least was jus 
tified. And still at the close of the week or day of such an 



461] THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS 157 

occurrence the negro laborer cheerfully and begrudgingly 
turned over his pay to her. The wife immediately wasted 
it, leaving him to get supplies for the home as best he could ; 
and unless he furnished what she wanted to eat and wear, 
she threatened again to leave him. It is thus that the negro 
woman is proverbial for her skill in getting the " dollar " 
from the man. 

Since the sum of his earnings is small, and artnce he 
spends much for unnecessary things, for church and lodge, 
and whatever pleases his fancy, the negro would not be ex 
pected to keep an abundant supply of provisions in the 
home. Dietary studies show that he does not. He buys 
small quantities at a time, and there is much irregularity in 
even this amount. He is generally required to pay cash 
for what he buys; this he has in small quantities only. In 
some instances the negroes are considered quite trustworthy, 
but in most cases to give credit to him means not only the 
loss of the amount owed, for the time being, but also the 
loss of his patronage. For he will not come back again 
until he has paid what he owes. When the negroes have 
comparatively plenty of money they buy groceries of the 
first quality, otherwise they buy the inferior quality, the 
latter condition being the rule. But the negro not infre 
quently lives from hand to mouth. The man may get his 
meals at his place of work; the woman at her place. If 
she cooks for the whites, she brings provisions from the 
white man s table and pantry, which she invariably brings 
in the bucket or basket carried for the purpose. One need 
not expect to hire a cook if she is not permitted to carry 
her bucket along with her. The negroes thus economize 
not only in the matter of actual provisions, but also in fuel 
and time. Often the men do not go home for dinner, but 
with a nickel or dime they buy from the lunch-counter a 
pie or an egg, sandwich, cheese and crackers, and eat them 



158 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [462 

on the streets. They apparently eat such a dinner with 
relish. The same method often follows for supper; the 
restaurants run by the negroes supply a part of this de 
mand. Negroes often buy fruit when it is cheap; some 
times they prefer a couple of bottles of soda-water to a 
meal. Negroes often go for many hours without eating 
anything. The negro sings longingly of the good things to 
eat and says dolefully, 

It s three long weeks since I have eat a meal. 

It is not surprising, then, that he eats ravenously when 
food is set before him. One marvels to watch such negroes 
eat; enjoyment shines from their faces and they are at their 
best wits, while eating enough to seemingly kill the ordi 
nary man. The " hand out " is proverbial. This is some 
times earned by a little odd job, sometimes it is begged. 
Sometimes it is furnished by the cook at the back door or 
yard of the white man s house. For the irregular negro it 
is his chief source of livelihood, and he sings, 

All I want s my strong hand-out, 
It will make me strong and stout. 

They pride themselves on getting the best meals and with 
the least work. They sing of good things to eat, of butter 
milk and " greasy greens," of chicken and meat. The hand 
out represents the ideal in such a case. Says one: 

I wus goin down the railroad, hungry an wanted to eat, 

I ask white lady fer some bread an* meat, 

She giv* me bread an coffee an treated me mighty fine, 

If I could git them good hand-outs, I d quit work, bum all de time. 

Again, the negro tells of being invited to dine, of eating 
hog-eye grease, burnt bread and ashes, as well as the better 
things. One stanza of the song goes : 



463] THE HOME LIFE > DISEASES AND MORALS 

Ask me to de table, thought I d take a seat, 
First thing I saw wus big chunk o meat, 
Big as my head, hard as a maul, 
I eat cake, corn bread, bran and all. 

It is readily seen that the negro does not need to keep large 
supplies of provisions, and that he lives much to his satis 
faction. It is also unfortunately true that the associations 
and good cheer which might come from the home and meals 
taken together are almost totally wanting. It is a sad pic 
ture for any people to exist from hand to mouth, now not 
having enough to eat, now too much, never eating quietly 
and with the warmth and fellowship of the family. 

It will thus be seen that there is little orderly home life 
among the negroes. Health conditions and daily habits are 
no better than the arrangement of the house. Sometimes 
an entire family consisting of father, mother, large and small 
children occupy the same rooms. Nor do they ventilate, 
and especially when any of the inmates are sick they are 
loath to let in the fresh air. Many superstitions constrain 
them to endanger their health by foolish practices. A negro 
family refused to remove ashes from the fireplace for sev 
eral months, fearing thus to cause the death of the sick one. 
Other foolish notions relating to a change of clothing pre 
vail. Consequently there is less hope of recovery in case of 
serious sickness, and more opportunities for sickness to 
grow. In the day, at night, when sick or when well, the 
negroes have no conditions for inspiring love of home or 
for health of mind and body. Physicians testify that three 
or four often sleep in a bed together; they do not change 
clothing before going to bed in many cases, and often go 
for many days without a change of garments. They go 
through the rain constantly without umbrella or coat and 
remain wet all day; at night they sleep in the same clothes, 
but sleep soundly and peacefully enough. They do not 



!<5o SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [464 

bathe nor do they think this unusual. It is related that 
young negroes often sleep with their heads toward the fire 
place and their feet uncovered in the opposite direction, and 
that children cover their heads while their feet remain cold. 
It has been suggested that the personal habits of the negroes 
are filthy ; such is the case. Filth and uncleanness is every 
where predominant. One must refrain from a description 
of the worst phase of the negro s personal habits. Yet their 
own best witnesses testify that nothing seems to improve 
such habits, nor do the majority of negroes seem to care. 
Says one of their number : " Preaching the laws of health 
and hygiene to them in this age has about the same effect 
as preaching the gospel has. They hear willingly but heed 
slowly. Many hear but only a few will believe ; a few will 
be saved but many will be lost." In many instances the 
best white physicians are unwilling to practice among the 
negroes. The existence of such conditions of home-life as 
obtain among them makes any attendance upon their sick 
unpleasant and repulsive, besides difficult. In addition to 
this, the fee is uncertain and the physician cannot afford to 
attend many of such patients. Indeed, one feels the pathos 
of the situation in its essentials when he sees a negro 
frantically trying to get a doctor but is unable to do so. 
The negroes have very few physicians of their own; the 
average town is without such a man. The list of applicants 
for license shows, however, that they are on the increase, 
and this indicates a better condition for the future. 

Furthermore, the relations existing between the parents, 
and among the other members of the family are not pleas 
ant. Little time is spent at home with the pleasures that 
properly belong to the home. Even the short time thus 
occupied is rarely conducive to pleasure or harmony. The 
father and mother are often against each other, and loud 
in their war of words, sometimes fighting. The children 



465] THE HOME LJFE > DISEASES AND MORALS j6l 

are witnesses to this quarreling and righting; sometimes 
the children are hostile to either mother or father or both. 
The relation between the younger and older children is not 
one of harmony, nor are the general relations between the 
older children and parents better. The parents in turn are 
reckless and severe in their abuse and punishment of the 
children. Such phrases as " I ll skin you alive," " 11 beat 
the life out o you," " I ll wear you into er frazzle," " I 
sholy am gwine kill you " are every-day expressions. With 
the negro such expressions of feeling seem to indicate the 
natural outburst of expression signifying to some extent 
the characteristic love of " bluff." Such utterances are 
more common to mothers. Perhaps they do not intend 
severity of any kind; it is most likely that the offending 
chap will go unpunished, and a short time later he may be 
heard surpassing his mother as he threatens with great 
vociferousness to annihilate his playmates. Again, the par 
ent often begins to administer corporal punishment and 
never knows when to stop, and finally when tired out he 
sees that he has abused the child, and his sympathy takes the 
expression of " Now go on, you little brat, I didn t mean 
to kill you; you sholy won t let me ketch you at that no 
more." Many negroes devise ingenious methods of pun 
ishing their children, some of which are effective. For in 
stance, a negro man always brought his boy some candy 
just before punishing him. When he called George and told 
him that here was some candy, George began to cry, for 
he knew what it meant. The parent would insist that the 
child eat the candy, and as soon as he had begun to enjoy 
it the thrashing would be forthcoming. The idea with the 
negro seemed to be two-fold: he would make the punish 
ment impressive by contrasting it with the thing which the 
boy liked, and he would also show him that the punishment 
was not anger, but paternal love. This latter element the 



1 62 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [466 

negro never admitted, but it was apparently there. So 
others have devised equally interesting modes, but on the 
whole, the scolding and punishment has just the opposite 
effect from that which it should have. The children rarely 
feel kindly towards their parents. So it is that after they 
have grown up the family is not united in purpose, spirit, 
or in physical presence. The statement is a common one 
and there is much to substantiate it that the members of 
negro families are more separated now than in the time of 
slavery. Such is undoubtedly the case in many families 
where the children have grown up to maturity. Many ex 
amples seem pathetic, but are apparently forgotten. In 
stance after instance has been noted where parents, old and 
almost helpless, have been deserted by their children. Nor 
do the parents know the whereabouts of their children. 
Often they say that sometime ago the children were at such- 
and-such a place, but with a vacant look of sadness the 
parents say they do not know where their children are now. 
The one desire of the younger negroes and it seems to be 
a natural one appears to be freedom from work and paren 
tal control. 

The conditions of the home are not made better by the 
reading of literature ; for the most part the influence is en 
tirely wanting, for good or bad. A few newspapers are 
read and the advertisements enjoyed. The negro news 
paper is growing in its circulation and influence. The ma 
jority of those published by lodge and church are a positive 
influence. They generally contain much sound advice and 
give glimpses of negro life as they should do. The Negro 
is loyal to his paper, and the pride in it is an incentive to 
better work, when the paper is sound and conservative. A 
few daily papers are read by the negroes, while the mass 
of information regarding the negroes and popular events 
are easily spread from individual to individual, or from 



467] THE HOME LIFE > DISEASES AND MORALS 

lodge meeting and church. The younger negroes are far 
too fond of books of vulgar stories and songs and of the 
dime-novel type. A favorite story among the negroes of a 
town was picked up. The opening words began : " Hit him 
ag in, Sarp." "I shorely will, Billy." "Slap! Smack! 
Bump!" While a number of church papers are read by the 
leading church members, the influence is relatively small. 
What is more surprising is the fact that there are few Bibles 
among the negroes. One would expect that they would at 
least own Bibles, but a great many do not. Some confess 
that they do not want them, while others think they do not 
need the Bible ; still others seem surprised to know that 
they are expected to have a Bible. " Naw, suh. Boss, I 
ain t got no Bible; ain t got time fer sich in mine; I does 
well to git a livin , I does ;" or, " I don t need no Bible, 
huh." The persuasive agent has failed to make the Bible 
as attractive as many other things ; the church societies look 
little to their distribution. 

Growing out of this disorder, confusion, and lack of 
home training, two things might be expected : immorality 
and crime, on the one hand, and disease on the other. Such 
is the case. The indiscriminate mixing in the home leads 
to bad personal habits; the utter lack of restraint deadens 
any moral sensibilities that might be present. Nowhere in 
the home is there restraint; the contact and conduct of its 
members belong to the lowest classification. There is little 
knowledge of the sanctity of home or marital relations; 
consequently little regard for them. The open cohabitation 
of the sexes related by no ties of marriage is a very com 
mon practice; little is thought of it as it relates to the race; 
there is apparently no conscience in the matter. They are 
aware, however, that the law operates against such a prac 
tice, and just preceding court week the mode of living is 
abandoned, indicating that they know such relations are 



!64 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [468 

wrong. An illustration will indicate the exact nature of 
the cases. Sam, the house-boy, was, to all appearances, an 
ideal darkey. He was supposed to be free from the accu 
sations of sexual immorality, if any negro in the commun 
ity was. The facts of his case showed otherwise, however. 
He 1-ived in one room of a two-room cottage. In the other 
room lived a woman with four children. This woman had 
a visitor from the country, and since there was no room 
for her, she was assigned to stay in Sam s quarters, to 
which he readily assented. She remained there for two 
months, until the other woman " got tired o such doins in 
her house," although she had instituted the proceedings. 
She threatened to report Sam to the town authorities and 
frightened him by telling the white folks about it. He in 
turn borrowed the money and bought a license, married 
the woman from the country, although he had appeared 
never to have thought of such a procedure before. When 
the neighboring woman knew that they were to be married 
she begged the white people not to say anything about the 
matter, adding that it was all right, they were to marry 
and she did not mean what she had said. After the mar 
riage it would, of course, be unreasonable to assert that 
there had been aught of wrong or disgrace. Such ethical 
views are significant. This wife has done nothing for Sam 
save to make him miserable, and she is as " ugly as the 
devil " besides. She makes him worthless at his work, 
leads him into trouble, and gives him no home. Nor is this 
example extreme; on the contrary, it is but a mild one, 
and the number of such cases is very large. Indiscriminate 
cohabitation of members of the family, with its train of 
consequences, is common enough among the negroes. Ap 
parently nothing will restrain the negro in his present 
stage except the law. The negro preacher was not far from 
the basic need when he affirmed that the greatest need of 



469] THE HOME LIFE > DISEASES AND MORALS 

his people was " moar laws and streaker laws ;" he wished 
to give emphasis to this verdict. Too often for the good 
of the race, the law overlooks the majority of such prac 
tices, taking immorality of all kinds as a necessary and nat 
ural adjunct to negro life. Religious allegiance seems 
powerless to uphold and purify the lives of the many; the 
law is the best expedient. Outside the home, on all occa 
sions and continually, there are no less indiscriminate prac 
tices. Too often every home is considered a place of de 
bauchery; the negroes know full well the numerous houses 
to which they are invited and to which they go. The 
" creeper," the " rounder-shaker," and the " eastman " are 
too well known to elicit surprise among the negroes. Every 
home is liable to their criminal influence, when every man 
and every woman becomes common property. 

Perhaps nowhere in negro life does the problem of 
immorality appear more stupendous than among the chil 
dren. Innocently they reflect all that is not innocent; guilt 
less, they show the superlative of filth and indecency. The 
amount of knowledge of evil and evil practices possessed 
by small children is unthinkable. Their practices are no 
less appalling. The unconscious depth of depravity to which 
the children have already come is appalling. Their " fun " 
is one continuous product of damning influence. Their 
brightness of mind is turned into shame and is witnessed 
in the seemingly inexhaustible fund of what they call 
" funny " songs and sayings, which in reality are to the 
highest degree indecent and profane. Nor is it surprising 
that the children become so early in life masters of the un 
clean and immoral. They hear unclean words and witness 
obscene deeds on every hand. They but reflect on a small 
scale what their elders embody in their daily life. 

There is no better and more accurate story of the im 
moral and unmoral life of the Negro than is told in his 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [470 

songs. Yet, only the better songs may be given to the pub 
lic; the great mass of vulgar and indecent songs do not 
admit of publication. Often such songs are in the majority, 
and they are generally favorites among the negroes. With 
the life of immorality comes its expression in story and 
song, With the gifted " music physicianers," " musician- 
ers " and " songsters," a vast throng " swelling with song 
instinct with life, tremulous treble and darkening bass," 
with the " gift of story and song," comes also the inex 
pressible wilderness of vulgarity and indecency. Their 
songs tell of every phase of immorality and filth; they rep 
resent the superlative of the repulsive. Ordinarily the im 
agination can picture conditions worse than they actually 
exist; but as in negro life deeds are beyond reason, so in 
these songs the pictures go far beyond the white man s con 
ception of the real. The prevailing theme of this class of 
songs is that of sexual relations, and there is no restraint 
in its expression. In comparison with similar songs of 
other peoples that have been preserved, those of the Negro 
stand out in a class of their own. They are sung at the 
dance and other mixed gatherings. They are sung by 
groups of boys and girls, of men and women, and they are 
sung by individuals who revel in their suggestiveness. 
Here the vivid imagination of the Negro makes his con 
stant thought a putrid bed of rottenness and intensifies his 
already depraved nature. Openly descriptive of the gross 
est immorality and susceptible of unspeakable thoughts and 
actions, rotten with filth, they are yet sung to the time- 
honored melodies. The words of the song are visualized 
into the deed and incorporated into the imagination chil 
dren from ten to twelve years of age knowing a hundred 
such songs; songs varying in all degrees of dirty sugges 
tion and description sung in the home, not collectively, but 
by individuals, with no thought of impropriety these 



471 ] THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS 

constitute pictures for the student of the race to con 
template. It is a marvel of the Negro s mental tendency 
that he can keep together such a vast heap of moral refuse 
and filth. Nor are the religious songs free from the in 
vasion; parodies as vulgar as the accumulations of inde 
cent thought can contrive are sung to standard tunes and 
stately measures. It is the saddest side of the Negro s 
nature. Must he continue as the embodiment of fiendish 
filth incarnated in the tabernacle of the soul? He cannot 
aspire in filth nor experience longing for anything that is 
good, while reveling in the evil. These songs come ill- 
harmonized to the soft, stirring melodies of a folk-life; and 
sadder is it to know that the song reflects his true nature. 
Will the Negro not check his downward path and make 
good the cheering possibilities that apparently lie dormant 
in the race ? 

Add to this disorder and immorality extreme health con 
ditions and prevalence of disease. The Negro rarely knows 
what it is to be in good health, although he troubles little 
about his condition. The fact that the great majority of 
negroes rarely ever enjoy good health, a natural conse 
quence of their habits, has been transmitted from genera 
tion to generation in their well-known replies to inquiries 
concerning their health. He never answers that he is well, 
but only fairly so : " O, I se doin tolerable, I guess," " Fse 
only po ly to-day," " I ain t well no mo ," and many sim 
ilar expressions. While the reply thus given has become 
habitual, it is almost invariably the correct statement of a 
chronic state of health. But aside from the fact of general 
health conditions, it is true that the diseases most destruc 
tive to a race are increasing among the negroes. Hence 
the death-rate is far greater than among the whites. There 
can be no more than a reference to these diseases here. 
Suffice it to say that the testimony of all the practicing 



!68 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [472 

physicians among the negroes, in so far as their experience 
and observations go, bears out the fact that the diseases de 
scribed by the specialists are prevalent and on the increase. 
The facilities for obtaining accurate and exhaustive infor 
mation in the smaller communities, as well as in the larger 
cities, do not exist. But so far as the investigator is able 
to discover, the condition of the Negro of to-day in the com 
munities studied does not differ from the general summary 
which follows. The minor points of variation and the pro 
fessional opinions of practicing physicians will give added 
concreteness to the general statement concerning the dis 
eases of the black man. President G. Stanley Hall, of 
Clark University, states the summary of medical studies 
upon the Negro s liability to disease as follows : 

To select the single question of health, from many of the racial 
differences above enumerated, we find in compiling many 
medical studies of the blacks, that their diseases are very dif 
ferent from ours. Their liability to consumption is estimated 
at from one and a half to three and a half times greater than 
that of the whites. This is only partly due to their transporta 
tion from equatorial Africa, because there they are peculiarly 
prone to tuberculosis, and measurements show less average 
lung capacity than is found in the whites. Very striking is 
their immunity from malaria and yellow fever, which shows a 
different composition of the blood, and which enables them to 
work in so many places where the whites cannot. They have 
extraordinary power to survive both wounds and grave surgi 
cal operations, with less liability during convalescence to re 
actions of fever and other complications. There is less sup 
puration, better and quite different granulation and scarifica 
tion. Their lymphatic glands are more developed and more 
effective in filtering out bacteria, so that to most infections they 
are more antiseptic; and the specific energy of their serum, 
bile, and phagocytes against toxines is different from that of 



473] THB HOME LIFE > DI SE A $E$ ^ND MORALS ^9 

whites. Cancer, especially of the worst or carcinomous kind, 
is very rare, as are varicocele, enlarged prostate, stone in gall 
and bladder, and ovarian tumor. They are far from exempt 
from congenital deformities, whether those due to arrest or 
perverted growth, so that humpback, clubfoot, harelip, spina 
bifida, are [not] unusual. There is more syphilis, but it less 
often results in tabes ; more passion for alcohol and more con 
sequent congestion of the liver, but less pure alcoholism/ There 
is less insanity, mental defect oftener takes the form of idiocy, 
and all acute psychoses like mania issue sooner in imbecility. 
Epilepsy is far more common, and is connected with their gen 
eral erethism. They are naturally cheerful, and so very rarely 
suffer from melancholia or commit suicide. The strange sleep 
ing sickness, they have practically all to themselves. Tetanus 
is common, chorea rare. General paralysis or softening of the 
brain, said never to have occurred in slavery, although now 
sometimes found, usually lacks, when it does occur, the char 
acteristic stages of delusions of greatness, perhaps owing to 
their humble position. Many eye troubles are infrequent, and 
various other differences have been noted. Now these distinc 
tions involve profound diversities of constitution and diathesis. 
All their diseases have a different prognosis and require modi 
fications of treatment, so that the training of physicians for 
the two races needs differentiation. Immune to many condi 
tions morbific for Caucasians, they are very susceptible to 
others harmless for whites. In tropical Africa men and women 
are extremely fond of bathing, which their very active skin 
needs ; but this disposition decreases almost exactly as clothing 
increases, and as the Negro goes North is often changed into 
exceptional aversion to the bath, which is suggestive for cooks 
and nurses. Of course mixture of blood with the whites brings 
approximation to the pathological conditions of the latter. 
Many of these differences are so radical that a Southern phy 
sician has said in substance, perhaps somewhat extremely, that 
a successful experience in treating one race impaired a phy 
sician s usefulness with the other, and made two hygienes and 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [474 

two regimens necessary as different as the application of 
veterinary medicine for horses is from that applied to oxen. 1 

Some physicians have held views differing in particulars 
from some of the generally accepted facts. From the sum 
mary of the opinions of the practicing physicians consulted, 
the main thesis is true, however. Many factors are left out 
in the general consideration. of the Negro s diseases. They 
rarely send for a physician until the disease is far spent; 
he calls once or twice perhaps. The majority of cases are 
never known and the combined complexities are not con 
sidered. It remains to conclude that the three most potent 
factors in their diseases and vitality are tuberculosis, vener 
eal diseases, and the general state of physical and moral 
habits. Further insight into their lives is well given in the 
following statement of a physician who has had years of 
extensive practice among the negroes of smaller communi 
ties and on the plantations. He says : 

The greatest factor in the mortality rate of the negroes just 
now is tuberculosis. Their disposition to move from one place 
to another, or from one house to another, is respnsible to a 
great extent for its rapid spread, few of them being land 
owners, they seem to have a natural tendency to want to move 
at the close of the year, and a family free from tuberculosis 
will move right into a house just vacated by a family that is 
infected, without a thought of danger. The only wonder is, 
that it does not spread more rapidly. I do not believe that 
they are as readily infected as the white race and I am sure 
they are more amenable to treatment. The tendency of the 
planters to build them good, close houses at present will be a 
factor in increasing the spread, as well as the mortality. I 
have little difficulty in treating tubercular infections among 

1 " The Negro in Africa and America," an address at the University 
of Virginia, July, 1905, p. 10 seq. 



475] THE HOME LIFE > DISEASES AND MORALS iji 

them if seen in time, and if I can gain their confidence and co 
operation. They are also more resistent to sepsis than the 
whites and are better surgical subjects. Pneumonia, colds, 
lagrippe, and similar diseases go hard with them and are dif 
ficult to treat among them. Venereal diseases and gynecological 
affections are very common, and I see few of the women that 
are perfectly free from them. Abortions are common among 
them and are becoming more so. Few of them have a phy 
sician at the time of confinement and suffer the effects of 
negligence and ignorant and meddlesome midwifery. Virtue 
is rare among them if not altogether unknown. I do not 
believe I have ever examined a negro girl sixteen years old 
that did not show evidence of sexual congress. 

Another glimpse into the home life of the Negro reveals 
the extremely immoral phases of his life. While the fol 
lowing opinion would seem to be extreme, it is nevertheless 
noteworthy, and is not inconsistent with the results ob 
tained from other physicians and from thorough investiga 
tions. He says : 

In his home life the Negro is filthy, careless and indecent. He 
is as destitute of morals as any of the lower animals. He does 
not know even the meaning of the word. Three things are 
wholly unknown to the Negro virtue, honesty and truth. We 
have few exceptions to the above rules. Syphilis and tuber 
culosis are his worst enemies. To the latter disease he very 
easily succumbs, due to the close and filthy manner of living. 
They will pen up four to ten in a small room at night, hence 
very little oxygen. This is my observation from twenty years 
of professional work in a section where the population is largely 
negroes. 

The testimony of another who has made a specialty of 
negro practice may be selected from many others of similar 
nature. Concerning the Negro at home, he says : 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



[476 



Few know what home is and have little desire for it. He has 
no morals. None are virtuous, not even the better class. 
Many girls under twelve years of age seen by me cohabit with 
men and are frequently found with venereal troubles. The 
leading preachers are frequently treated by me for syphilis 
and gonorrhea. 

The conditions among the negroes seem to be worse as the 
majority of the population is negro. There are few ex 
ceptions to these conditions, and no physician has been 
found who would testify to the contrary; a few have ex 
pressed a hope for better possibilities. None of the com 
munities studied differ materially in this respect. 

The responsibility and extent of the situation begin to 
dawn on the student of social welfare. For those primar 
ily interested in the negro race or in the white race or in 
both, the facts are equally important. The fact is unde 
niable that venereal and pulmonary diseases are the worst 
that afflict mankind; they are everywhere on the increase 
among the negroes to an alarming extent. Those who are 
in a position to know hold that such afflictions are danger 
ous, not only to the negroes, but menacing to those among 
whom they dwell. And it is a deplorable fact that if the 
course of these diseases is not stopped, it may come to pass 
that many who deserve to be free from all impurity will 
not escape these afflictions. This one thing itself ought to 
cause the officers of the law no longer to countenance the 
gross carelessness and immorality existing among the ne 
groes. The realization of these facts ought to stimulate 
those who are in a position to do most to direct and to 
execute positive measures along the proper lines. It is earn 
estly hoped that the mass of people will become informed 
concerning existing conditions; it is of vital importance 
not only to the Negro, but to those who would assist him, 



4773 THE HOME LIFE > DI CEASES AND MORALS 

and those who would promote the purity of the white race. 
The small town might be supposed to be free from the 
maladies, at least to have a minimum affection, but in real 
ity they show an alarming percentage of diseases. The 
habit of using cocaine has constantly grown, and among 
the better classes, with its evil results. Its extensive use in 
the cities brings the inevitable influence to the smaller com 
munities. The present tendency in most Southern* cities 
makes its sale difficult by statutory regulations, and 
few druggists in the smaller towns care to run the risk of 
selling it. Thus when one views the situation of the Negro 
in its entirety, and remembers that they have inadequate 
medical attention and moral direction, and that they are 
extremely careless in treating their maladies, it will be seen 
that the specialists are not alarmists. 

The conclusions as to the moral conditions of the Negro 
do not rest simply on white testimony; they are confirmed 
by many of the current views of leading negroes of their 
communities. They are admitted and deplored by their 
most earnest workers; they are verified in almost every 
phase of negro life. Conservative opinions from represen 
tative negroes are noteworthy. A principal of the colored 
school in one of the towns thus sums up the condition of 
his people : 

The neglect of our parental duties has filled our children with 
lies and cursings, theft and immorality, gambling and drunk 
enness, envy and covetousness well I tell you it runs on from 
petty fault to absolute crime. A very sad picture and sadly 
have I pictured it. But thank God, these defects do not apply 
to all the race; no not by all means, for (even here) we are 
not united together. But wherever this neglect has gone, it 
has broken the peace and destroyed order between the races. 
It first exists in those families where home life and training 



1 74 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [478 

has been neglected father and mother against the children 
and children against both. I tremble when I hear it said that 
such individuals are viewed as a type of the race. This may 
be a type of all the race sometimes ; it may be the type of some 
of it all the time, but I am pleased to say that it is not the type 
of all of it all the time. 

This statement is worthy of a careful consideration; un 
wittingly, perhaps, it is a wonderfully accurate judgment 
of the Negro race. 

There is a brighter side to the picture of negro home life 
in the form of exceptional negro families. But it is ex 
tremely difficult to see the better side of negro home life 
and environment, and the worse so predominates as almost 
to overshadow the better. Not all homes are equally dis 
orderly; there are to be found many homes which show 
marked pride and do credit to the occupants. The house is 
well kept, the yards clean and orderly, pots of flowers may 
be seen arranged with taste, and flower-beds indicate the 
pride felt in the home environment. The interior of such 
homes is well furnished and with good taste; pride ex 
pected of an educated people seems to be the dominant fac 
tor. Many of the best influences of the home are repre 
sented. The mothers appear to take a proper pride in the 
training and helping of their children. They are given ap 
propriate amusements and furnished with necessary com 
modities. They are the children at school whose appear 
ance reflects a true home training, and whose lessons and 
enthusiasm are well worth emulating. Their mothers wish 
them to be " somebody," " no cheap folks," or " just good, 
honest folks." But here again the seriousness of the situa 
tion is revealed. There is little permanent environment 
which is conducive to the growth of character and worth. 
The student and well-wisher stands back again in sorrow 



479] THE HOME LIFE D ^EASES AND MORALS 

for the struggle that such children must needs make in 
their growing lives. Amidst the circumstances which sur 
round the negro home, is it surprising that it is almost im 
possible for these children to grow up into men and women 
of stability? Even in those cases where the negroes own 
modest homes and keep them clean, and whose children give 
promise to grow up virtuous, the idleness which is at/ times 
prevalent among them, together with negro environment 
in general, and their inherited tendencies, make it impos 
sible for them to develop into that which they gave promise 
to become. The truth of this profound situation is well 
illustrated by the following incident; it is but one of many 
that come to the attention of those who have tried to uplift 
the negroes in their life and practices : A lady had chidden 
a negro girl for her immorality, and then in kindly words 
urged her to change her ways, saying all the while that 
such conduct as she practiced was wrong and disgraceful. 
To which the negro girl responded : " It s no use talkin to 
us colored girls like we wus white. A white girl is better 
thought of if she has never gone astray, but a colored girl 
that keeps herself pure ain t liked socially. We just think 
she has had no chance." Is it possible that a people who 
do not frown on such a code of morality would clamor for 
social recognition? Many of their leaders need to be re 
minded, carefully, but firmly enough, that there is not, nor 
can there ever be, any hope for their race in any line of 
permanent achievement until their moral status is changed. 
And so, without detracting one bit from the credit due 
those homes which reflect honor upon the race, it must still 
be said that the bright side of negro home life lies only in 
the probable possibilities. 

If the second and third generations of negroes are worse 
than the first, the condition may be attributed largely to the 
lack of home order and training. In the home, which is 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [480 

the unit of social measurement and the gauge of social 
progress, the negroes appear to be void of conscience. If 
the home, which Ribot has called the atom of the social 
structure, is bad, it needs no logic to see that the total 
organism is bad. Individuals have no training school in 
which they may develop worth and self-respect. And while 
it is true that they have many difficulties in the way, which 
are not given enough consideration as a rule, it is also true 
that the great majority of negroes care little for bettering 
such conditions. The Negro s conception of home is little 
more than a place to stay; when in trouble or in want he 
longs for such a place ; otherwise he thinks little of it. And 
home would be complete if there were complete rest and 
opportunity to do as he pleases. Just as many negroes have 
no homes, neither in the sense of a house, nor a home town, 
so the conception of the true requisites of the home are only 
vaguely conceived, if they exist at all. Where he has the 
" moest friends " is the best home for the wandering type 
of negro; and such a class of negroes exert all too great 
an influence upon the home in general. He says : 

Now a good lookin man can git a home anywhere he go ; 
Reason why: de wimmins tell me so. 

In cases where persons have hoped to educate a few negroes 
up to a better standard, and to this end have kindly in 
sisted that a part of their wages go to the improvement of 
the home and to supplying it with necessaries, the negroes 
have nearly always refused to work. Free time and money, 
actual " change," represents to the negro his greatest want; 
it is his dire necessity to have them; they are above health 
and gentility and self-respect. His vanity and eagerness in 
the strife of vain competition in his superficial life leave 
him far behind in powers of improvement. 

The charge will be made, however, that the white man 



481] THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS 

does not exert himself to bring about better conditions in 
the negro home, and that many of the superior race even 
take part in its defilement. And this charge undoubtedly 
has much to substantiate it. On the one hand, the whites 
bestow little or no attention to ascertaining the welfare of 
the negroes at home. Nor do they know of the details, 
although they are conscious of the lack of morals in general, 
so that it is a matter-of-fact necessary evil. The Church 
and organized society do not exert the influence and in 
terest in behalf of the Negro that becomes their privileges. 
It is hopeful to note a change for the better and a growing 
interest and determination to see that the Negro gives an 
account of himself, and to uplift him as far as possible. On 
the other hand_, the defilement of both whites and blacks 
continues to considerable degree among low-down whites, 
by which is meant not a class, but individuals, contemptible 
and despicable in their disgraceful conduct; they are often 
prominent in business and professional circles. But they 
are invariably from the number whose influence is felt less 
and less. If the facts were more generally known our 
people would hang their heads in shame. And these men 
of the negative-character type are unworthy of any place 
in the social organism of either whites or blacks. Their 
forgetfulness and degradation have led them to the lowest 
depths of criminal relations, and they are a disgrace to 
Christian civilization and a stain upon the community s 
record of decency. And it is encouraging to find that the 
true verdict is being rendered by the white people of the 
South and that such a crime is reaping its reward in the 
punishment and ostracizing of the individual. Many whites 
are exerting their best efforts to make the decrease in the 
amount of illicit intercourse far greater than it is, and to 
reduce the intercourse between the races to its lowest pos 
sible proportions. There is being crystallized a sentiment 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [482 

among the whites which will trifle with this thing no longer. 
Although it is an unpleasant task, many of the leading -men 
in the South are determined to leave no stone unturned in 
their efforts to eliminate this crime. And to this end steps 
are being taken to punish all offenders without compromise. 
In full justice to the situation facts must be fairly stated. 
In Article 3, in Things Fundamental in the Adjustment of 
the Problems of the Races, Ex-Governor Northen of Geor 
gia says : 

As we are the superior race, superior in intelligence, in wealth, 
in authority, in shaping of governmental control and in a 
longer and older civilization, can we not easily afford to protect 
the rights of the weaker race, and defend, not only their prop 
erty, but their homes against brutal assaults made by corrupt 
men of our own race? Is it not true that the negroes are, prac 
tically, helpless against such moral uncleanness as has been 
perpetrated upon them by very many impure and lecherous 
bad white men? Is it fair to sit idly by when we alone have 
power to punish, and see the home of the negro destroyed, his 
family dishonored and disgraced by unclean men of the 
stronger race? Surely our statesmen, philanthropists, preach 
ers and teachers can devise some way of punishing bad white 
men who destroy the homes of negroes and become the fathers 
of a mongrel people whom nobody will own. If we will wipe 
this shame from the record of our own race and purify our 
own people, we will then have better reason to expect better 
things of the negroes. 

Such words are indeed worthy to be pondered and acted 
upon. Governor Northen has done a most efficient service 
preaching law and order throughout the State, to many of 
the best citizens of county and state. He has received much 
co-operation from both whites and blacks. And the fact 
must be recognized that the sooner a beginning is made 
the better will the end be accomplished. 



483] THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS 179 

It remains to be seen what the Negro, with the co-opera 
tion of the whites, can and will do for the up-building of 
his race. Not all the shortcomings of the negroes have 
been mentioned; not all the good. Their leaders are pro 
claiming, perhaps more than ever before, the law that the 
home must be purified and made better. But they are not 
proclaiming it universally and with sufficient zeal. / Their 
words are not expected to count; their examples are not of 
sufficient strength nor their purposes clearly pure. And, 
on the whole, they do not appear to grasp the first essen 
tials of the true situation. They should study and work 
in their own homes rather than with abstractions and per 
sonal gratifications. The portrayal of the negro home 
shows an utter lack of restraint there, and a most complex 
situation. Without Bibles and family fireside, in a land 
of Bibles and in a Christian country, a Christian people 
among a Christian people, a veritable catagory of para 
doxes what movements are the negroes making, not the 
oretical teachings by their " big men," but everywhere, 
movements which go to the bottom with the individual, in 
which rests their only hope what movements are the ne 
groes making upward in the practical ethics of living? 
However, it is but fair that members of the race should 
speak for themselves. With reference to family control and 
parental responsibility, a teacher says: 

A parent having children must ever consider his duties and 
responsibilities toward them. He must make laws and regula 
tions for their guidance. He must see to it that these laws 
and rules are just and reasonable. He must enforce them in 
a just and firm manner. He must exercise a just and explicit 
judgment upon the children s obedience or violation of these 
laws. He must provide his children with shelter and food, 
education and clothing. Education in the broad sense of the 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [484 

word embraces the child mentally, morally, physically and 
spiritually. I have thus given what in my judgment are the 
duties of all parents the Negro in particular. 

Thus is given a formal compilation of doctrine strong and 
good ; but there is little realization of it in practical applica 
tion. Whenever the leaders who utter such truths, as well 
as the people at large, come to consider such a course seri 
ously as a code of conduct, then in the next generation 
marked improvements will begin to be visible; scarcely 
sooner. 

The lack of scriptural influence and the reading of Bibles 
in the home has been noted; as a practical factor they 
should exert the most powerful influence. Such is not the 
case, and any steps toward a better condition will increase 
the possibilities of the race. Again, it is but fair to quote 
negroes who have given utterance to sound advice to their 
people. A minister says : 

We must teach the Bible by good deeds and proper living, in 
the home first, in the school, in the church and in the commu 
nity. By all means teach the boys and girls by our example 
first, by words afterwards, not to steal, not to commit vicious 
crimes. Have family prayers and family talks. Teach morn 
ing and evening. So many wait till the Sabbath to teach the 
young and then we teach more creed than Christ-life. . . . 
Let us teach what our Savior would have our children do 
rather than what we would have them believe. In short, buy 
Bibles for the home instead of bottles for the riot. Read the 
Bible and let them know that it means for them to live by it. 
Keep children at home and off the streets. Teach boys that 
if they violate the law they will be punished in this and the 
other world. Teach them what a disgrace it is to wear stripes 
and appear at the mayor s court. 

And yet such doctrine as that just quoted is absolutely be- 



485] THE HOME LIFE, DISEASES AND MORALS igi 

yond the comprehension, not to say execution, of the mass 
of negroes. The theory is there but it does not ring with 
the true sincerity of one who knows the field and is willing 
to devote his life to it. Perhaps the criticism is harsh ; but 
do these teachers and preachers earnestly mean what they 
say? Are they not able and willing to demonstrate by ex 
ample and substantial efforts the possibility of overcoming 
the weaknesses against which the race must fight ? ^ 

Such are the partial glimpses into negro home life, with 
its resultant morals and diseases, with the facts and forces 
now at work for good and evil. Much might be added. It 
remains for those who are interested to note carefully the 
conclusions which these facts bring out. It is necessary for 
the Negro to consider all that has been said, and in the true 
spirit, if he would approach substantial happiness and pros 
perity. Pessimism will accomplish nothing. The study of 
world-wide problems by the negroes will help little. The 
sooner a beginning is made at the proper place the better 
it will be for all concerned. For the whites the necessity is 
a proper study of conditions, in which the fundamentals 
are magnified, and a willingness to meet the situation fairly; 
truth must be respected. For the negroes the first duty is 
to work upon a platform of definite significance, to recog 
nize their own intricate problems in their simplest elements. 
Earnestness and fidelity, the despising of sham superficial 
ities, a willingness to work and meet the situation, hard as 
it is, with daily precision these will bring results. 



CHAPTER V 
THE NEGRO OFFENDER 

WHILE little attention has been given by students of the 
Negro problems to the home life of the negroes, much has 
been said and written in a general way concerning their 
vices and crimes. The so-called criminal tendency has been 
emphasized without proper analysis. Fragmentary statis 
tics have been gathered wherever available and generaliza 
tions have been drawn from them. Exhaustive and exten 
sive data on the subject are almost entirely wanting in so 
far as they have been collected and tabulated. Popular 
estimates and opinions have been verified apparently by ob 
servation. The results thus gained have not been without 
value nor have they lacked a measure of accuracy. But 
searching inquiries such as would enable the student to find 
important results concerning the most essential phases of 
the subject seem to have been neglected. What is most 
needed at the present time is a true insight into the life 
and environment of the negro criminal, information deal 
ing exactly with the nature and extent of the crimes com 
mitted, their source and principal causes, probable tenden 
cies and propensities, with their total effect upon race char 
acter, and some inquiry into possible remedies. 

There can be no doubt that crime and vice among the 
negroes in Southern communities have assumed alarming 
proportions. That they are not decreasing can scarcely be 
doubted by those who know the situation best. On the 
other hand, it is generally believed that the extent of crim- 
i8a [486 



487] 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



inal offences among the negroes is growing and that the 
nature of the most common crimes and the prevalence of 
vice is growing more serious. Education and contact with 
the white man under conditions that have existed since the 
war have failed to make conditions essentially better. Nor 
is there a more important phase of the entire negro ques 
tion, both in its relation to race development and to the 
attitude of the races toward each other, than that involved 
in the present criminal status of the Negro. It will be the 
purpose of this chapter to inquire into the underlying con 
ditions which are back of the criminal record of the mass 
of negroes and to note something of the essential quality 
of the offences shown in records that are thoroughly repre 
sentative. To this end the effort is made to find the an 
swers to certain inquiries that appear to be fundamental, 
the results obtained from inquiry into public and private 
opinion will be given, and records of smaller and larger 
communities will be studied. The way will then be open 
for the discussion of the more general aspect and of possible 
means of ameliorating present conditions. The conclu 
sions reached can at best be accepted as only tentative and 
the chapter, to a great extent suggestive in its method, 
should be considered the beginning of a much more exten 
sive work on the negro criminal. 

The conditions obtaining in the negro homes and the 
standard of sexual morality reveal much of the nature of 
the soil from which the vices commonly practiced among 
negroes arise. The Negro s state of being and his atti 
tude toward the community at large constitute an impor 
tant source from which his aggressive actions spring. To 
know what the negro s criminal propensities are it is neces 
sary to understand much, not only of his environment, but 
of his chief traits of character and disposition. A compar 
ison of the traits manifested by the negro slave with those 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [488 

of the present-day negro may give some insight into pos 
sible tendencies at the same time that it will indicate some 
thing of the factors involved in the total situation. 

The ante-bellum negroes were noted for their cheerful 
ness and gaiety. Their good nature and amiability, their 
good sense of humor and lack of resentment made their 
conduct especially agreeable to those with whom they were 
constantly associated. Almost constant song and pleasing 
musings while they were kept constantly at work were 
factors in the Negro s life that kept him for the most part 
within the bounds of a reasonable standard of rectitude. 
The Negro of to-day is fast losing his cheerfulness and is 
far less disposed to manifest the spirit of gaiety either 
among his own people or among the whites. The negroes 
sing far less while they work than formerly, many of them 
showing an attitude of sullenness. " Happy as a nigger " 
is much a truth of the past. Again, politeness and courtesy 
were among the most noteworthy traits of the older ne 
groes ; especially was this true in their attitude toward white 
women. To-day the spontaneous politeness is far less ob 
servable, while in its place are found either rudeness and 
inconsideration for the welfare of others, or the assumed 
politeness of the valet. Respect and reverence toward the 
aged were marked characteristics of the old Negro, while 
this attitude is now very rare and perhaps almost gone. 
Kindness and attention to the sick and the care of children 
were especially marked characteristics of the slavery ne 
groes both old and young. Faithfulness to master or the 
family of the master constituted the fundamental principle 
of conduct. To-day untrustworthiness seems to be an al 
most differentiating trait of the Negro. Again, the older 
negroes could be entrusted with missions of importance, 
and with safety. Rarely did they steal things of value, 
even when there was every opportunity to do so. They 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 

were always noted for their petty thieving, considering that 
they were entitled to a share of the things with which they 
came in contact. The marked contrast manifested by the 
negro criminal of to-day is seen in his tendency toward 
robbery, bold burglaries and purse-snatching. 

At the same time the negroes of slavery days were equally 
noted for certain negative tendencies which have become 
magnified in the negro of to-day. The proverbial laziness 
of the Negro in freedom has developed into shiftlessness 
and vagrancy to a large degree. The general carelessness 
with which the negroes unrestrained performed their tasks 
is now manifest in a lack of efficiency in the negro laborer. 
The improvidence of the slavery negro is further revealed 
in his lack of managing ability and financial aptitude. The 
old negroes were skilful in inventing " tricks " by which 
they could deceive their masters, either in order to obtain a 
desirable end or to evade unpleasant tasks. It was an 
habitual practice, wherever practical for them, to feign sick 
ness, lameness, stupidity or fear in order to be relieved of 
an unpleasant task. Their ability to conceal and evade was 
almost an art, and it was their policy, when more than one 
person was involved, " never to tell." This trait may be 
observed much developed in the present-day Negro s ten 
dency to conceal stolen goods and criminals, as well as in 
the effective and rapid methods of communication in mat 
ters of racial importance. The oversight of the white man 
in slavery days kept the home of the Negro in a more or 
ganized state, and the quarreling and fighting of man and 
wife were almost unknown. Likewise the open lewdness 
of their women was not known in the proportions of the 
present-day Negro. The more serious crime of rape was 
almost unknown. 

The traits already suggested reflect the extent to which 
the common traits of the African Negro had developed 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [490 

under the influence of slavery and the new environment 
The tendencies of the present-day Negro, his restlessness, 
his vagrancy and loafing, his love of excitement and sensu 
ality, his bumptiousness, the child and savage elements in 
his nature, still reflect forcibly the prevalent traits of the 
Negro in Africa. It is thus expedient to take into consid 
eration the fact that the Negro inherits these chief traits 
and inherent tendencies through many generations. The 
successive stages of his development and the growing ten 
dencies may then be studied more satisfactorily and his 
present status better understood. 

In seeking a final estimate of the criminal negro certain 
important questions suggest themselves at the same time 
that they are recognized as essentially those inquiries which 
should begin the proper study of the subject. First, what 
is the most marked criminal tendency of the present-day 
negro, and as compared with the whites, what essential dif 
ference, if any, is there in the nature and number of offences 
committed by the negroes? Second, are the crimes com 
mitted by the negro against his own people of the same in 
herent nature as those committed against the whites? 
Third, what circumstances, on the one hand, and what 
traits of the negro on the other, seem to be most respon 
sible for his present criminality? Fourth, in particular, 
what are the effects of vagrancy upon negro crime, and 
what are the chief factors leading to vagrancy? Is va 
grancy in general increasing? Fifth, what is the effect of 
the Negro s home life and morals upon his criminal acts? 
Sixth, what part does disease and ill-health play in actions 
of the criminal negroes? What proportion of negro crim 
inals are " half-witted " or affected by some form of in 
sanity? Is insanity increasing among the negroes? Sev 
enth, what effect do charitable aid and reformatory meas 
ures have upon negro offenders as compared with the 



49I ] THE NEGRO OFFENDER 

whites? Eighth, what is the best method of treating negro 
offenders and what is the most effective method of check 
ing the criminal nature, if it be such? Can the Negro be 
saved from a tendency which his present status seems to 
indicate. 

The consensus of opinion held by the general students 
of the Negro may be given very briefly. Many careful 
students believe that there is no marked tendency toward 
criminality in the negroes distinct from the whites except 
that of rape, while some do not think this to be a distinct 
tendency. Others hold that stealing and adultery are the 
primarily criminal tendencies, while still others add gam 
bling in its adapted form and brutal jealousies with their 
consequences. Again, there are many observant men in the 
South who believe vagrancy is the one characteristic trait 
growing out of a shiftless nature, and that all offences 
against persons and property grow out of this. Drunken 
ness is considered one of the chief causes of the direct 
aggressive criminal acts and may almost be said to be a 
special tendency of the negroes of the present generation. 
Except in the specific crimes mentioned, it is not believed 
that the Negro is essentially worse than a corresponding 
class of whites with similar lack of religious and social re 
straints. The number of offences far outnumbers those of 
the whites and the rate per capita is very much higher than 
among the whites, due largely to ignorance emotions 
and passions, traits considered instinctive by many 
who have had large dealings with negroes. The negro 
would prefer to steal from the whites but does not hesitate 
to steal from members of his own race. Among the chief 
circumstances which are believed to lead directly to the 
criminality of the Negro are idleness and the use of intox 
icating drinks and general ignorance. Education as it is 
understood by the average negro is also considered a prime 



!88 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [492 

factor in the vagrancy habit. Perhaps, too, the Negro has 
not become thoroughly adjusted to new industrial condi 
tions. The willingness of negro women to support negro 
men in idleness is an important factor. The chief traits 
which lead to the committing of offences are thought to be 
the emotional nature of the negro with his sensual procliv 
ities. For the most part vagrancy is thought to be on the 
increase to a marked degree, although there are those who 
do not believe that it is increasing at all. Home life and 
good morals are as essential to good negro citizens as for 
white men. Nurtured with some hatred toward the whites, 
taught no morals, with a fanatical religion, itself leading to 
erratic actions, with little regard for common decency, and 
bred in filth and adultery, the negro is considered peculiarly 
liable to crime. The reformed negro criminal is rarely 
seen, and it is well known that the negro offender is not 
cured by the ordinary punishments. A general feeling of 
hopelessness is predominant when the subject of the negro 
offender is to be discussed. Prevention and segregation 
with industrial education are suggested. These opinions 
while not drawn from conclusions made from accurate 
data, nevertheless are important in the consideration of the 
general aspect of the subject. They represent much care 
ful observation extending over many years. There are 
many exceptions to the current beliefs both conservative 
and radical in their directions. Further answer to these 
inquiries must be gained from the study of records. 

While the records of negro crime in the larger cities con 
stitute important evidence, the Negro at large should not 
be judged by these alone. For the negroes in the cities con 
stitute a special case in which conditions make them more 
liable to the ordinary offences and arrests. The average 
negro is found in the smaller towns throughout the South 
ern States; he is neither so industrious and diligent as the 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER ^9 

country darkey nor so shiftless and reckless as the city 
negro. His environment, too, represents the average con 
ditions of the mass of negroes in the Southern States. 
First, then, will be given results obtained from the study 
of the criminal dockets in the smaller communities investi 
gated, showing both the general and the specific nature of 
the offences. 

Although the negro population of the communities studied 
averages only a little more than forty per cent of the total, 
the negroes commit, nevertheless, eighty per cent of the 
total number of offences recorded on the criminal dockets. 
The offence most commonly recorded, regardless of sex, is 
disorderly conduct, by which is meant general misconduct 
in public places; drunkenness is the second most common 
offence, and fighting is the third in numerical proportion. 
If the offences of the males be considered alone, disorderly 
conduct is most frequent; if the offences of the females be 
taken alone, fighting is the most common. The most com 
mon offences of the males are further, drunkenness, fight 
ing, assault and battery, gaming, retailing liquor, and va 
grancy. The list of crimes most commonly committed by 
negro women includes drunkenness, lewdness, profanity, 
promiscuity, quarreling and fighting, disorderly conduct, 
assault, the keeping of bad houses, gaming, retailing whis 
key, and vagrancy, especially at night. 

A prominent fact is observed in the lack of white women 
convicted and the large number of negro women. As a 
rule there are few cases recorded against white women in 
the towns having a population from two to fifteen thou 
sand inhabitants. Exceptions are comparatively rare. The 
percentage of negro women is apparently increasing, and 
reference to the list of common offences given above indi 
cates the serious nature of their crimes. In a number of 
towns the chief offence is drunkenness; in others prostitu- 



I 9 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [494 

tion seems to have been established so firmly that it is diffi 
cult to diminish it. In a town where one hundred and sixty- 
three women were convicted during the year, fifty-five were 
prostitutes, fifty were convicted for fighting, twenty-eight 
for drunkenness, twenty for bad language, eight for petit 
larceny, one for selling cocaine and one for discharging fire 
arms. Similar details may be noted in the tables that follow. 
Some of the women have been convicted for as many as 
five different crimes or offences during a single year, and 
for the same offence a number of times. And not only do 
the negro women play a prominent part in the criminal 
records themselves, but they encourage the men in various 
ways to commit offences against the persons of others. 
Jealousy of an insane sort is often the ruling passion. There 
are, as a rule, in each community a number of notorious 
characters in this respect. They quarrel and fight in their 
own section of the town or when they come in contact in 
other parts of the community. Knives and razors are not 
infrequently prominent weapons. But the special character 
istic of these quarrels is the vile abuse and profanity that is 
exchanged with reckless proficiency. Nor do they spare 
the officers who arrest them. A case has been noted in 
which such a negro woman cursed the judge of the local 
court more excitedly at each successive sentence until the 
sixth fine had been placed upon her for this offence. Noth 
ing seems to have a restraining effect upon these women, 
who appear as raving, angry maniacs. As a factor in the 
race life this feature is coming to be a very serious problem. 
The criminal records from one town of each general 
class studied may illustrate further the exact nature and 
proportions of the offences committed by blacks and whites ; 
these records do not differ essentially from the majority 
of other towns studied. The first table represents Oxford, 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



Mississippi, with a population of 1650 whites and 525 
negroes. (1906). 



Name of Offence 


Whites 


Blacks 


Males 


Males 


Females 




2 

7 

22 

2 
2 

7 
i 


2 

3 

10 

6 

37 
i 

3 


/ 


Disorderly conduct 






3 

5 












i 

2 

4 




2 

I 








13 








i 
i 








Riding on sidewalk .................... 
















4 

I 


8 

3 

i 


i 
I 




Operating without license ............... 










2 
I 








i 








Total 


65 


89 


21 





192 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



[496 



The next table represents the total record for the same year 
of Covington, Georgia, in which disorderly conduct includes 
various minor offences not recorded separately. There are 
in the town no less than 1950 whites and 800 negroes. 



Name of Offence 


Whites 


Blacks 


Males 


Males 


Femalei 




33 
13 
3 

2 


11 

6 

2 
2 


n 
I 

3 








Disturbing the peace 












I 


3 






3 

2 

I 
2 




7 


7 
















j tal 


59 


117 


24 





Biloxi, Mississippi, a larger town, presents some excep 
tions, especially in the proportion of white women convicted 
of offences. The records are kept much more in detail and 
are for the year 1908. A study of this table will indicate 
the relative proportions and kinds of offences committed by 
the whites and blacks. A little more than twenty-five per 
cent of the population is colored. 



497] 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



193 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Blacks 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 


Affray 


10 

6 


5 


10 

4 
II 
I 


6 

5 
9 













2 
I 

2 
51 
19 

6 

i 










2 










Drunk 


12 
H 


73 
9 

7 


24 

34 
i 










Neglect of children 




2 
2 

4 


i 




i 

2 








4 
31 
4 




29 

2 












2 


Rape 








Stabbing 


I 




2 
I 












2 

4 

2 
30 






Carrying concealed weapons* . 




2 

3 
37 

2 

16 
i 
i 
i 
3 
19 
ii 
















I 


4 
14 




H 




I 
















Bestiality 








Disturbing public worship .... 


2 








5 






Total 


I6 4 i 65 


215 


142 





This record is much larger than the average and is given by 
the chief of police. For 1907 there were 703 arrests, for 
1906, 421, and for 1905, 411, while the first six months of 
1909 is much less than half of the preceding year, with only 
five per cent of drunks, owing to the prohibition laws. One 
negro youth was lynched in November, 1908, for assault 
upon a young white girl of fifteen. 



194 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



[498 



Before giving records showing the Negro s criminal acts 
in the cities, one other table, representing a still larger town, 
will be given. Columbus, Georgia, combines industrial con 
ditions with considerable manufacturing interests and agri 
culture. It will be seen that disorderly conduct includes a 
majority of the misdemeanors. 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Blacks 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 




10 

5 




3<> 

18 

2 

3 

12 
350 
750 

4 


8 
4 




















3 

201 

60 4 

3 






Drunk 


36 
181 


60 
300 




Assault and battery .... 




10 


6 






2 

I 

8 
I4 6 

II 

62 












12 
II 
13 

5 
Si 






Carrying concealed weapons. 










Gaming ............. ...... 


















Total 


919 


227 


1283 


378 





The inconsistencies and inaccuracies of all such records 
are apparent when a searching investigation is made into 
the conditions existing in the smaller towns and those having 
a population of less than thirty thousand. The records are 
carelessly kept and cases are recorded with little accuracy; 
further, it is difficult to separate the whites from the black, 
since they are not usually distinguished on the records, and 
the memory of the court must suffice or that of some officer. 
Again, many offences occur that are not taken into account 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER IO ,:j 

by the authorities. Trivial offences cause many arrests. 
Local conditions have much to do with the strictness of 
municipal regulations and their enforcement. Some offences 
quite common in one community may be almost wanting 
entirely in another, due apparently to suggestion or past 
occurrences. Vagrancy is one of the chief sources of the 
Negro s unfavorable record, yet comparatively few cases 
are found against him. The negro cares little for dbnvic- 
tion. Even in the smaller communities many are convicted 
during a single year from three to five times, especially is 
this true of selling whiskey; nor do the fines, aggregating 
from one to five hundred dollars, deter them in every case. 
Many negroes convicted of offences in 1905 were convicted 
of the same in 1906 and 1907; many are found on the 
dockets for several successive years. Punishment thus 
seems to be no adequate restraint, and even less than the 
law, other influences affect him. A negro had assaulted 
another with an iron bar ; as he was led away by the officer, 
although he knew his victim was probably fatally injured, 
he laughed, joked and sang, nor was he under the influence 
of drink. Many similar cases are recorded. Another negro 
who was sentenced to the gallows, played a " coon song " 
on his guitar while a jail comrade was being executed a 
few yards away. Few of the capital crimes are found on 
the records studied; many of these occur in the rural dis 
tricts at public gatherings and entertainments given by the 
negroes, hence do not come under the town s jurisdiction. 
Little can be learned as to the ages of the offenders from 
the records, although the average opinion represents the 
average age to be about twenty-three years. Nor are the 
numbers sufficiently large to enable one to draw conclusion 
as to the months in which the negroes are most commonly 
arrested. But further generalizations must be given in the 
conclusions which follow at the end of the chapter. 



196 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



[500 



Keeping in mind the total proportions and apparent ten 
dencies of negro offenders as given above, and also the rela 
tive kinds of misdemeanors as they are represented in the 
detailed tables, it will be well to compare similar reports 
from the larger cities of the South, giving, first, the general 
figures, then the more detailed. The records are for the 
year 1908. 







Whites 






Colored 






Males 


Females 


Total 


Males 


Females 


Total 


Atlanta Ga 


r.oid 


CQ7 


C.C2I 


8,211 


2 74.O 


lo.cci 


Memphis, Tenn 
Nashville, Tenn 


D w *^ 

2,816 
5322 


192 
596 


3O 1 " 
3,008 
5,918 


2,638 
4,132 


521 
1,896 


iw D3* 

6^028 

1 1 082 


Birmingham, Ala. . 
Galveston, Tex 


2,138 
1,440 
2,883 


243 

U3 
I to 


2,381 

1.553 
3,042 


2,454 
523 
3,661; 


794 
276 
1,363 


3,248 
70.9 

5,082 




8ca 


c8 


QI7 


i j.i i 


380 


I 701 


Charleston, S. C 
Columbia, S. C 


1,266 

1*552 


D" 

55 
39 


1,321 
1,690 


2,094 
2,700 





2,6 10 
3.302 



While the colored population of the cities just cited is a little 
less than one-third, the negroes are held for more than fifty 
per cent of the crimes. Atlanta, with a colored population 
of about one-third, has nearly twice as many negroes on 
the criminal records as the whites. Noteworthy also is the 
large number of negro women, as also at Savannah and 
Nashville. For the year previous (1907) Atlanta s record 
showed a total of 24,882, or 8,810 more than in 1908, the 
decrease due largely to prohibition; in 1907 there were 12,- 
455 cases of disorderly conduct and 6,508 drunks, as op 
posed to 8,890 disorderly conducts and 2,650 drunks for 
1908. The decrease was thus large in these causes. In 1907 
15,207 of the total number were negroes and 9,675 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



197 



were white. In 1906 there were in all 21,702 cases, or 
3,180 less than in 1907. To see the enormity of the crim 
inal record of the city in 1907 one but has to contrast it 
with that of Memphis, Tennessee, which had a total of only 
5,122, although Memphis has some twenty-five thousand 
more inhabitants than Atlanta. The climax in Atlanta was 
reached in September in the riot. Since that time the arrests 
have been fewer, although they are the largest of any city 
in the South except New Orleans. A part of this, however, 
is due to the fact that minor offences are all included ; i ,463 
were arrested on " suspicion." A further study of the situ 
ation in Atlanta may be found in the following table, which 
shows the relative ages of persons arrested, arranged by 
race and sex : 



Age of Persons Arrested 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 


Under 1 2 years ....... ..... . . 


66 
235 
575 
1941 

1303 
609 
285 


6 

7 
65 
274 
105 
37 
J3 


243 
604 
1566 
3705 
1354 
502 

237 


21 
60 

554 
1096 
407 

!54 
48 










Between 40 and 50 years .............. 







From this table it will be seen that out of the 16,072 ar 
rests, 3,992 were under twenty years of age and 1,242 were 
under fifteen years. The average of whites is higher than 
for the negroes. Only about one-fourth of the negroes are 



SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



[502 



above thirty years of age, while nearly half of the whites 
are more than thirty. Nearly one-third of the negro males 
are under twenty years, while only a little more than one- 
sixth of the whites are less than twenty. In the record of 
Memphis for the same year only one person was arrested 
under ten years and only 899 under twenty; this takes a 
total of three thousand from the record of Atlanta made on 
the same basis. A similar table showing the ages of per 
sons arrested in Nashville may be compared: 



Age of Persons Arrested 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 




938 
1897 
1087 
960 
440 


177 

222 
"3 

55 
29 


1200 

1821 
605 
264 
242 


757 
853 
197 
60 
29 


Between 20 and 30 years .............. 











From this table the same general tendency is indicated. Of 
the negro males less than one-fourth are above thirty years, 
as compared with nearly one-half of the whites; of the 
negro females a little less than one-sixth are over thirty 
years of age, as compared with one-third of the whites. 
Again, of the negro males nearly one-third are under twenty 
years of age as compared with a little more than one-fifth 
of the whites. A striking feature of Nashville s record is 
found in the fact that the excess of negroes over whites is 
due to the large number of negro women; the white males 
exceed the colored. 



503] 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



199 



From the general reports it would seem that the months 
of July and August furnish the greatest amount of arrests ; 
this is usually explained as being the result of the extreme 
hot weather. Other causes, however, enter into the con 
sideration. The following tables will show the relative 
numbers for the months as reported in some of the cities: 



Nashville, Tenn 


Whites 


Males 


Females 




469 
436 
507 
5H 
36 

359 
4i3 

V 

395 
439 
466 


% 

53 



44 
60 
64 
54 
42 

31 

37 




March 


April , 


May 




Tulv.. 










December 



Colored 



Males 


Females 


263 


73 


306 


103 


365 


176 


301 


193 


379 


209 


332 


203 


384 


201 


445 


22 3 


366 


134 


343 


147 


318 


123 


330 


III 



For the colored, both male and female, the greatest number 
of arrests was in August. With the total whites, March, 
April and September each exceeds August. A marked fall 
ing off of the negro females in September is observable, 
while there is little variation in any of the months in the 
case of white women. With the negro males, July, the next 
highest, still falls considerably below August. March and 
April for the white males are considerably in excess of the 
other months. Compare these relative numbers with those 
of other cities. 



200 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [504 



Memphis, Tenn 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 




220 

333 
252 
158 
209 
167 

222 

251 
247 
222 
262 
268 


12 

6 
5 
H 
25 
9 
3 
8 
27 
7 
34 
4 


33i 
176 
250 
188 
226 
239 

2IO 
I 9 
I 9 

H7 

2 7 

216 


H 

42 

46 

8 

70 

1? 

26 

38 
35 




March 


April 


M a y 




Tulv.. 















This table does not agree with the apparent tendencies 
shown in the foregoing one. For the negroes, August re 
ports fewer arrests than any of the several months, January, 
March, May, June, July, November and December. Espec 
ially is the number of negro women small in August. For 
the negro males January furnishes the most arrest and for 
the females July. For the whites February is first for the 
males and July for the females, although nothing can be 
gained from the differences shown. Again, compare these 
tables with a similar one representing Macon, Georgia. 



505] 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



201 



Macon, Georgia 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 




60 
88 
42 
69 

% 

65 
73 
72 
27 


6 


5 
149 

H3 
89 

102 
119 

155 
104 

78 
8 9 
8 4 

43 


18 

29 

; n 

33 
47 
34 
39 
42 

44 

10 

6 




March 


8 

2 

7 

8 
ii 

2 
I 

5 
i 


April 


May 




Tuly . 






October 


November 







For the colored males July has the largest number and for 
the females June, while February and April are next. For 
the whites April and February are largest. September, Oc 
tober, November and December appear noticeably less than 
the four months preceding, in the case of negro males. 
Savannah, Georgia, reports July to exceed all other months 
by a very marked margin, more for the negroes than for 
the whites. For the whites August is second and for the 
negroes December. Columbus reports the same relative 
figures. Other towns report December and January as the 
leading months. It will thus appear that the curve is far 
from regular and that little can be gained from the reports 
of so limited a number of criminals. The records do not 
always bear out the conclusions given by the police and 
other officers. 

The detailed examination of the records of the largest 
cities gives a qualitative study of the relative offences com 
mitted by the negroes and whites in larger numbers, and 
may be compared with those of the smaller towns studied. 
These reports, however, are very difficult to obtain and rep- 



202 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [506 

resent much labor. Charleston, S. C, makes its report thus 
fully: 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 


Assault . 


26 
H 
3 
39 




38 
33 

12 

I 
I 
8 9 
2 

6 

1 

8 
288 
369 
56 
166 

2 


9 
ii 


















I 


5 
i 
i 
5 




4 
3 
33 


Arson ................... .......... 






I 














2 

19 
I 








1 
















80 

66 
42 
132 


5 
4 

2 
15 


97 
37 
15 
47 












I 

5 
i 


















6 

5 

i 

174 

2 

14 
10 

6 
3 
13 

5 












4 

2 






Gambling 














2 

7 
3 
5 
3 

2 

2 




i 

2 








I 


Homicide . . 




Insane ....... 


3 


6 

2 


Interfering with officer ........... . . . . 










2 




Keeping gambling houses 


72 
15 






Petty larceny .... 




112 

28 

3 

i 


29 
14 


Grand larceny 






















2 
2 

4 
2 




53 
ii 


i 


9 

22 










i 




2 



50?] 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



203 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 


Obstructing streets ... 






2 

4 
I 
i 
i 

2 

I 
4 8 




Obstructing sidewalks ....... ........ 








Obstructing officer in discharge of duty 


















i 






Rape 






Attempted rape ....... ............. 


I 

95 

i 












Running automobile without light 










3 
ii 

3 
190 
i 
3 












Riding bicycle without light ... 








Selling lottery tickets .... ... ...... 

















Selling vegetables without license ...... 








3 

5 










12 

I 












3 










5 

5 

2 


I 




38i 

5 


2 













In addition to these offences a number were detained for 
witnesses, eighty-five negroes were " found sick " and 
sixty- four whites, one hundred and ten negroes were " found 
wounded " and fourteen whites, fifty-three negroes were 
" found injured " and thirty-two whites, and eleven ne 
groes and two whites were found dead. Besides these there 
were a few others, including some minor offences, than 
those recorded and a number of accidental deaths. From 
the above table it will be seen that the negroes exceed the 
whites, in a large degree, in disorderly conduct, disorderly 
persons, drunk and disorderly, gambling, larceny, selling 
lottery tickets and breach of peace. But the proportion of 
whites " drunk " is large, as also with " drunk and dis 
orderly." The whites exceed in homicides, and one at- 



204 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [508 

tempted rape is recorded against the whites, against one 
attempted and two committed by the negroes. The popu 
lation of Charleston is approximately equally divided be 
tween the two races; Birmingham, Alabama, has less than 
one-third of its total population colored. The following 
table shows the relative proportions and natures of the 
offences in that city. The report transcribed from the 
original record is for the year 1908. 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Colored 


Males 


Females 


Males 


Females 




3H 
32 
93 
6 
76 
24 
537 

3 ll 

25 

5 


37 


263 
79 
450 
15 

221 

I 5 6 
338 
4 8 

17 


93 
4 
7 
3 
7 
i 

207 
207 






15 

2 

7 








Drunk 


29 
70 


Disorderly conduct .. 






3 


1*6 


Seduction .......................... 






3 
H 




Rape 








5 


2 


6 






14 

3 

2 9 
210 

5 2 
7 

21 


3 


3i 
J7 
79 
181 
286 
169 

46 


10 

i 

7 
29 
i 

112 

5 
13 
i 




Carrying* concealed weapons .......... 


i 
8 
i 

63 


Violating prohibition law* ........ 


















21 


i 

1 




Bestiality ......................... 


*? 















This table is more nearly representative of the average 
gained from the whole study than any other; noticeable, 



509] THE NEGRO OFFENDER 2 O$ 

however, is the excess of whites who were arrested as 
" drunk," explained in part to the number of laboring 
whites in Birmingham. A striking feature of the total 
record is the large number of negro women and the nature 
of their offences. Note especially the number of drunks 
and vagrants and those charged with disorderly conduct. 
Shooting and carrying concealed weapons are included, be 
sides six murders. The cases of larceny by the ne groes 
are much in excess of the whites. Compare this table 
with the record of the Fulton County prison or the " tower " 
of Atlanta, Ga. This number represents in a large meas 
ure the prisoners who are brought over from the city court 
and those from the county at large, of which there is only 
a small number. The report, made from the private rec 
ords, includes 2,952 cases, of which 1,882 are negroes and 
i, 068 are white. This is the total number entered for the 
year 1908. 



206 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [ 5IO 



Name of Offence Committed 


Whites 


Males 


Females 




150 
158 
48 

47 
18 

8 
119 

35 

5 i 

35 
10 
81 

4 
ii 
10 

5 
ii 

9 
9 

2 


6 
ii 

8 
5 




Vagrancy * . . * 




Fortrerv 




















2 
2 




Stabbing 




6 






I 

8 






Seduction ...... 




Robbery 














i 
i 




2 


Affray 




3 

2 

164 
I 
I 




Rape ... 













Perjury .... ................ 


Riot 









Colored 



Males Females 



282 

310 

64 

80 

13 

18 



1 

35 
25 
63 



5 

14 
7 
3 
5 
3 
3 

6 

2 

294 

7 

2 



38 

43 

19 

14 

i 

5 

22 

20 

I 



4 

7 

6 

20 

8 



A careful study of the foregoing tables will show that it 
is difficult to fix the exact criminal status of the Negro; 
the same difficulty is found in the further study of criminal 
records and in private research. Contradictions and excep 
tions are numerous, so that it is doubtful if the exact rela 
tions can be determined at the present stage of our knowl 
edge. Certain general facts, however, seem to warrant a 
number of apparent conclusions. The total criminality of 
the Negro is undoubtedly greater than that of the whites. 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 



207 



The negro exceeds most in general disorderly conduct, lar 
ceny, and offences which, in themselves, are minor. The 
negroes exceed in homicide and commit the majority of 
rapes. In the cities the sexual immoralities are revealed in 
the records. The large proportion of negro women con 
victed and the flagrant nature of their offences is note 
worthy. The average age of the negro offender is consid 
erably less than that of the whites. The summer months 
apparently furnish the greatest number of arrests. 

Judging from the records alone, it will be seen that if 
the great number of offences for which the Negro is appre 
hended which rank as minor offences be taken away, his 
criminal record will not appear nearly so bad. Indeed, in 
many of the records, if statistics be used to their full extent, 
it is possible to make out a worse case against the whites 
than against the blacks. The wife-beating so commonly 
spoken of as peculiar to the negroes does not appear to a 
large degree. The whites, in consideration of the total 
proportion of white criminals to the black, have a large per 
centage of drunks ; thus the negroes may not easily be said 
to be essentially predisposed to drink, when all the factors 
are considered. The fact may be possible, but it is not 
proved that, other things being equal, it is so. Gambling 
is not the Negro s offence alone. And when his social status 
is considered, it is not surprising that the Negro commits 
so large a number of crimes. Again, the negroes are often 
arrested for very trivial offences and brought to trial indis 
criminately. The negroes often complain that " if a nigger 
had a done that, he sho would a been rested," and with 
some reason. For many times undue severity is manifested, 
and the white man is often too careless in sentencing him 
in both small and larger crimes. He is too often not given 
a fair trial; he is rushed through court in many instances 
as a matter of fact, with very little due consideration. In 



208 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [512 

every community it is the lowest stratum of society that 
produces the most crime, and why should the Negro be an 
exception? There are those who complain that the whole 
conduct of the Negro is in the hands of the white man and 
he has no sort of chance to escape. And summing up these 
views there are those who maintain that the criminal pro 
pensities of the Negro do not constitute an essentially unique 
phase of the problem. 

But there are other considerations. Careful research and 
a thorough insight into conditions reveal many other fea 
tures. The results are not pleasing, but they are neverthe 
less important in the total consideration and must be faced 
impartially. A comparison of the records with the actual 
conditions, gained from exhaustive inquiry, shows that many 
offences which would be considered criminal if committed 
by the whites are excused entirely to the negroes. Theft 
and sex immorality are the two most flagrant vices of the 
negro ; and yet comparatively few cases are brought against 
the negroes for these offences, especially in the average 
smaller communities. The Negro is often abused by the 
white man and " let go " for his petit larceny, so accus 
tomed is he to it; the negroes themselves in their lodges 
and churches make sometimes a formal reprimand but they 
do not always report to the law. The white race assumes 
that sexual immorality among the negroes is a necessary evil 
and few are subjected to the law. Vagrancy, too, is the 
source of many offences, and the negroes offend markedly 
in this respect, but comparatively few cases are made against 
them for vagrancy compared with the total number. The 
laws are becoming more stringent, and the sooner the idle 
hordes of negroes, who endanger their own race by making 
the white man s home seem insecure, are put to work, the 
better it will be for the two races. The idleness which leads 
to minor offences is a serious phase of the situation. It 



THE NEGRO OFFENDER 

will thus be seen that the arrests for minor offences not 
only seems justifiable, but desirable in order that the more 
serious crimes may be checked and that the growing ten 
dency may not increase. When the number of offences 
which the negroes commit and which are unrecorded in 
sexual immorality and petit larceny, together with flagrant 
vagrancy, are considered, and when it is considered ^that 
these vices are the most pregnant of evil for the race, the 
statement is true that the vices for which the Negro is pun 
ished are not so great as those of which little note is taken. 
Again, it is well to note that many of the petty trials and 
arrests are instigated by negroes against members of their 
own race. The negroes ordinarily shield the criminal in 
general, and especially if his crime was perpetrated against 
the whites. They do not always do so, however, and when 
the offence is against private interests or person, involving 
jealousy and envy, they almost infrequently report the 
offence to the officers and demand immediate punishment, 
declaring that the more severe the punishment the better 
they will be pleased. This, it will be understood, is the 
action of individual against individual and not the group 
action. And negroes often impose severe punishments when 
the feeling of authority and power is given full sway. His 
judgments are both careless and without compassion when 
they are once directed against a subordinate. There is ex 
treme doubt whether the negroes would fare better at the 
hands of their own judges, in those cases where personal pre 
judice and feelings were permitted to enter. But in all con 
sideration, it should be remembered that the Negro has ex 
treme and overwhelming odds with which to battle and he 
deserves the sympathy and justice due him. The situation 
itself should be impartially studied, and it should be remem 
bered, too, that, so far as the white race is concerned with 
them, the majority of negroes are good, law-abiding 
citizens. 



2io SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 

It is easier to suggest general opinions than to fix exact 
conclusions; remedies may be easily suggested, more rarely 
applied. Weakness should be distinguished from aggres 
sive crime and vice. On the whole, a careful review of the 
Negro s home life reveals the source of much of his weak 
nesses; while at the same time his undeveloped condition 
accounts for his lack of home order and ideals. The youth- 
fulness of many offenders and the low age-average sug 
gests the simple gratifying of animal passions with little 
restraint. The nature of the crimes committed is entirely 
consistent with this view. Again, the bumptiousness of the 
negro is co-existent with his criminal proclivities. His 
prison songs and slang are full of the typical attitude of the 
reckless " I don t give a damn," " Nobody s bizness but 
my own," " Goin to kill a kid," " Goin to raise hell," and 
many other such expressions. The hero-worship of the 
" bad-man " and the prisoner is apparently a logical out 
come of the bumptious spirit which characterizes the low 
order of character commonly exhibited by the negroes of 
the worst type. The professional ethics of vagrancy in 
which the loafer develops from the " hobo," the " rounder," 
the " creeper," and the " bum " into the " bad man " and 
criminal is significant in indicating the essential qualities 
that make for criminality. This phase is further studied in 
the following chapter. The failure of ordinary measures of 
reform apply equally as much to other phases of his life, 
the industrial, educational and social, in a general way. 
The entire tendency seems to unite in a greater lack of re 
straint and a more appalling lack of application to enduring 
activities. 

Reverting again to the original inquiries, it will be seen 
that they are only very partially answered and that the re 
sults show general and tentative conclusions. It is doubtful 
if the Negro can accurately be said to have a distinct crim- 



5! 5] THE NEGRO OFFENDER 211 

inal tendency apart from the physical propensities consis 
tent with his development and the mental traits consistent 
with his training. His vices among the members of his 
own race are more frequent than his crimes against the 
whites, and with the exception of rape (and all forms of 
sexual vices) are not essentially different from those of the 
whites. In addition to the factors mentioned above, drunk 
enness has much to do with the immediate committing of 
many offences. Larceny and common theft have developed 
in many cases into bold and carefully planned robbery. No 
sufficient data are at hand to enable an opinion of the part 
disease plays in the criminal record. The .negro lunatic is 
not dangerous ; he is more of an imbecile. No adequate 
records are found to tell whether lunacy is increasing or 
not. The Fulton County records show an increase of 1906 
over 1905 and a decrease in 1907 with a slight increase 
again in 1908. Other records are equally unsatisfactory, 
though no exhaustive study has been made of the larger 
communities. Lunacy in the smaller communities is not 
perceptibly on the increase. The remedies for immediate 
relief seem lacking. Enforced restraint and application to 
some kind of life that would lead to stability are essential. 
To prevent the criminal propensities the work must be ap 
plied to the very young negroes in the home and school, 
with some such methods as are suggested in the chapter on 
Education. The ultimate remedy is one of complex eugenics 
and environment. Work with regular and constant em 
ployment would be a most practical means of developing 
the Negro. The active interest of negro leaders would go 
far toward a beginning. 

There is, however, another phase of the entire situation 
which cannot be expressed in records and averages. 
Whether the Negro has a special tendency or not ; whether, 
such a tendency is the committing of one offence or an- 



212 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 

other, the facts nevertheless remain that his total record is 
unchanged and that it works very much to his hurt. The 
foregoing pages attempt only a qualitative and suggestive 
view of the underlying actions of the so-called criminal 
negroes. But all the while the impression is deeply rooted 
in the South that the Negro is becoming dangerous and a 
menace to civilization. Fear and unrest caused by the ne 
groes by their past record is astonishing. The white man s 
home in the rural places and the suburbs of the cities is not 
considered safe. The thieving of the negroes in many places 
is a constant menace. The relations between the races be 
come more strained in some kind of periodic rhythm, gov 
erned by the existence of irritating offences. In this chap 
ter no attempt is made to study the more serious crimes of 
murder and rape; they have been unduly emphasized in 
proportion to their importance in fixing a probable future 
tendency. What is desired now is to reveal the condition 
of affairs and the qualities of the Negro which make his 
present and future welfare hazardous, and the relations be 
tween the races unduly strained. It may as well be ad 
mitted that practical thinking in regard to the present situ 
ation is important, and that all interpretations of records 
and impressions should be sane and broad. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 

y 
FROM the foregoing studies something may be learned of 

the Negro o general position in the community and also of 
his life among his own people. The facts brought out in 
the study of the Negro s schools and school life, his church 
and church life, the lodge and its social and benevolent 
activities, his home life and morals and the criminal acts of 
the mass of negro offenders will indicate the general status 
of the negro race under present conditions in Southern com 
munities. It now remains to consider briefly the part which 
the Negro plays in the community as a laborer and as a 
property owner, and to note further characteristic habits of 
social activity and methods of entertainment which the 
negroes employ. For the total status of the Negro must 
be determined both by his relation to the entire commun 
ity of whites and blacks and by the kind of life that is com 
mon among the negroes themselves. With this fact in mind 
the Negro s part in the community as a laborer and property 
owner may now better be understood and the facts presented 
in this chapter may be correlated with the studies of his 
private and social activities as set forth in the foregoing 
chapters. 

Occupations among the negroes are not well defined. It 
is therefore difficult to classify the negro laborers according 
to their occupations, except in a very general way. The 
majority of them may be said to work at any specified labor, 
rather than to follow it as a fixed occupation. The Negro 
517] 213 



214 



SOC1AL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO 



changes his work often, hence his occupation, and when he 
has reached middle age he has been employed in many 
capacities. He is thus for the most part a general laborer. 
Such laborers fall into two general divisions : Those who 
work for the blacks and those who work for the whites. 
Each of these divisions in turn may be divided into two 
classes. The first class, which is very small owing to the 
fact that few negroes own business property or are pro 
ducers, is composed of (i) those who perform the actual 
labor for the blacks; and (2) those whose work is for the 
most part done for whites but under black supervision. 
Among the black workers for blacks may be mentioned the 
merchants, boarding-house keepers (for blacks), painters, 
editors, teachers and preachers. Among the laborers of 
the second subdivision of the first general class may be 
mentioned barbers, draymen, keepers of restaurants, con 
tractors, painters, blacksmiths, butchers, shoemakers and 
repairers. The employees of these, where the business is 
large enough to require assistance, come under the first 
division. The total number of either kind of workers for 
blacks is small, nor are all the classes mentioned represented 
in every community. Few towns have a negro printing- 
office; in other towns the barber shops for whites, as well 
as the restaurants, are operated by whites. The whites do 
not work in the employ of negroes. 

The great majority of negro laborers belong to the gen 
eral division of workers for whites, which may again be 
divided into two classes : those who work for the whites 
under black management, and the great body of negro 
laborers solely under white management. The first of 
these classes has already been mentioned (2) under the 
first general division of laborers. In the second general 
division of laborers, the second class includes bricklayers, 
carpenters, blacksmiths, barbers, butchers, hack-drivers, 



THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 215 

firemen, farm hands, room-cleaners, house-boys, waiting- 
servants, janitors, messengers, plasterers, painters, porters, 
railroad employees, drivers of teams, bootblacks, clothes- 
pressers, and the great majority of other general laborers 
and workers at " odd jobs ". This class also includes the 
large number of women workers, cooks, laundry women, 
or both, nurses, house-girls and general farm laborers. A 
strict classification would require another division, namely 
that of men and that of women workers. The former have 
been classified more fully. The women help clean houses, 
do little odd jobs of a domestic nature for the whites in 
addition to cooking and washing. However, the woman 
laborer is most characteristic as the cook. The whites, who 
do not do their own cooking, depend almost entirely upon 
the negroes for their assistance. They come to prepare 
breakfast, go home and return for the mid-day meal, return 
again in the afternoon, and come again to prepare the even 
ing meal; or they come early in the morning and remain 
until after dinner. Many live on the premises and are able 
to be at home and attend the whites as well. What the 
whites would do without them is difficult to conjecture, yet 
they are coming to be less satisfactory each year. Should 
one be up early in the morning in the average town, one of 
the first scenes that meets the eye is that of negro women 
going to and fro on the streets to their work. There 
are many of them, and for the most part they go silently. 
What they are thinking of, if indeed they go beyond child 
like musings, would be difficult to ascertain. Sometimes 
they see their male friends and acquaintances as they, too, 
are going to work and speak to them. Sometimes they ask 
in passing of each other s " folks " or stop to speak concern 
ing something of common interest. More generally the 
women simply greet each other. " Who you wukkin fer, 
now ?" " Oh, Fse cookin fer de Smiths, didn t you know 



2i6 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [520 

dat ?" " I thought you wus cookin over to Miss Thomp 
son s." " Naw, I don t wuk fer no white folks dat long." 
And they pass on. The domestic problem grows more 
serious. The nurses and house-girls, too, are less efficient 
and faithful than formerly. The washer-women are more 
satisfactory and often do good work, although less faithful 
than formerly. 

A further subdivision of negro laborers in general is that 
of skilled laborers and unskilled laborers, the former class 
being small. There are few skilled laborers in the average 
community of negroes; the negro artisan, generally speak 
ing, is not found to any extent. While studies into the 
progress of the Negro show that on the whole, and as a race, 
the Negro has advanced considerably in skilled labor, it is 
difficult to verify these conclusions in the smaller com 
munities and among the general mass of negroes. The 
Atlanta studies and reports of Washington s students indi 
cate that there are a great many successful and persistent 
skilled laborers among the negroes. Nor is one disposed to 
doubt the general conclusion. The present investigations, 
however, reveal the fact that many who have set out as 
skilled laborers have dropped back into general labor, for 
various reasons. Here again it is difficult to permanently 
classify the workman. There are, however, many com 
munities which have negro skilled laborers who are efficient 
and industrious, ranking high among workmen of any 
class. On the other hand, it is worthy of note that in many 
places skilled labor among the negroes is on the decrease. 
This may be due to the fact that in many towns the total 
population of negroes has decreased, while the whites have 
increased, thus bringing about a new order of things and 
crowding out the negroes, or taking places for which they 
were not prepared. Again, such a condition may be due 
partly to the fact that the negroes seem to care less, in many 



5 2i] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 217 

instances, for skilled labor; few prepare themselves for it, 
not because they object to it, but because of the general 
inactivity and lack of application among the great mass of 
negroes. Perhaps the negroes have been displaced most 
commonly by white barbers and blacksmiths, carpenters, 
plasterers and painters, within the last decade. Among the 
professional workers, the preachers and teachers are numer 
ous. There are few negro lawyers and physicians, but they 
are increasing, and many of them show a marked degree of 
adaptability. 

The question of the efficiency of negro labor is the critical 
question of the hour; alongside it stands the question of 
the proportion of those laboring to those who are idle or 
unemployed. In any discussion of the economic situation 
this is an important consideration. A portion of the negroes 
wander about and seek to get a living as best they can 
without working for it; they must necessarily live at the 
expense of the other negroes and the whites. The number 
of vagrants in every community is surprisingly large. They 
are naturally divided into several groups : those who never 
work but wander from place to place, never fixed and with 
out a home, stealing, begging, and obtaining a living from 
any source possible. Such men never work except when 
forced to do so in little jobs or on the streets or in the chain- 
gang. Besides these, there is a large number who work for 
several months, until they have accumulated a little money 
or until they have grown tired of labor at one place; they 
are then " off " for another locality, loafing and causing 
trouble in many ways. Then there is a large class of negro 
men who work only a small portion of their time, but 
remain generally in their home community. They are 
willing to work a day or two to meet actual necessities; 
they are often willing to work for longer periods if good 
inducements are offered, but their chief business is loafing. 



2i8 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [522 

The majority of negroes belong at some stage in their lives 
to this class of vagrants. Again, there are a considerable 
number of negro women who neither look to the welfare of 
the home nor perform any work ; they not only do not make 
for the welfare of the community in any sense, but do much 
harm. They figure prominently in the police records and 
make large contributions to the immorality of the com 
munity. Such classes of loafers and worthless negroes 
easily make the situation more difficult for the better 
negroes, and the whites are coming to recognize this fact 
in making better provisions for their future. 

The situation existing in a community with many such 
negroes is a difficult one. Sometimes they enter a compact 
not to work until a certain time or for certain terms. They 
are heard to boast that they can live with the least amount 
of work possible ; the one who can exceed the usual limit is 
the best of the crowd. Their means of sustenance has been 
described in an earlier chapter. Besides the hand-outs and 
the supplies given them by the negro women who work for 
the whites, such negroes depend upon any methods possible, 
stealing and borrowing, visiting and begging. They thus 
remain idle as long as they can, consenting to work only 
when forced to do so by necessity. They may work one, 
two, three or four days in the week, and be idle the rest of 
the week. As a result of such conditions, it is often difficult 
to obtain satisfactory labor. When such negroes work at 
all, they demand their wages at the end of each day, nor 
will they work under other circumstances. They overdraw 
their pay whenever their employers are willing to pay them 
anything in advance; it is thus common for them to fail to 
report to work on a morning, and leave each place owing a 
small amount. This they will pay if driven to work again 
for the same employer, who in turn is glad to have any kind 
of labor. And indeed such negroes make the best of 



523] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 219 

laborers when they are willing; often they work industri 
ously for a few days, then become tired and lag, then stop 
completely. Again, labor can not be obtained at all on 
many occasions when most needed, although numbers of 
idle negroes may be seen on the streets or may be found 
sleeping in the houses or yards. At other times unreason 
able inducements must be offered. Take an example for 
further illustration: An aged white minister whose spotless 
character and charitable deeds make him conspicuous to 
both whites and blacks, goes to a group of no less than ten 
strong, burly negro men and boys, desirous to have one or 
two of them work out his garden, for which he offers them 
a liberal wage. He almost begs them to work even a short 
time, yet they all refuse to go. Standing there at first in 
silence, each looking at the others, with expressions varying 
between a smile and a sneer, one finally says he believes 
he does not want to go ; the others assent. This thing hap 
pens, not once nor twice, but many times. Another recourse 
of this exasperating class of negroes, especially if they are 
younger fellows, is to inquire into the nature of the work 
and the pay offered, and then as if they are offended that 
they should be expected to do this particular kind of thing, 
they calmly answer that they don t want to work. When 
the white man who has often befriended such negroes, thus 
in need of help for which he offers good rates, knowing that 
these are the negroes who make his home unsafe and add to 
the criminality of the negro race itself, and knowing that 
they begin to abuse him as soon as he is gone, when such a 
man comes to analyze his feelings, it is little surprising that 
his patience is gone. A.gain, such negroes often promise to 
be on hand for the desired work but never appear or send 
excuse. The younger negroes are coming more and more 
to shun unpleasant labor, and are thus becoming more un 
stable. 



220 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [524 

Indeed, the Negro has developed an independent ethics 
of vagrancy wherein he states his principles of loving idle 
ness and shunning work. Carelessness and idleness are 
principles and he is not ashamed of them. This is brought 
out in his manners, in his boasts and conversation, in his 
songs and in his actions. He sees two dirty " hoboes " 
coming down the railroad track with grip-sacks on their 
backs and wittily sings that one " looks like my brother, the 
other my brother-in-law ". He sings and boasts his own 
freedom from work and complete independence to do as he 
pleases. Says he, "I m goin where water drinks like wine", 
" where rounders and women do as they please ", " where 
money grows on trees ", " where chilly win don t never 
blow," " where sun don t never shine ", " where it ain t 
goin to rain no mo ", " where watermelon smilin on de 
vine ". The Negro is becoming less efficient as a work 
man, not because of lack of ability, but because of his 
indisposition toward work and his persistency in idleness. 
So he sings as a typical character : 

Well dey calls me a eastman if I leaves de town, 

Dey calls me a eastman if I walk around, 

I got it writ on de tail o my shirt, 

I m a natch el bohn eastman, don t have to work. 

When you kill a chicken save me the whang, 
When you think I m workin I ain t doin a thing. 
When you kill a chicken save me the feet, 
When you think I m workin I m walkin de street. 

Ain t no use me workin so, 

Cause I ain t goin to work no mo . 

Satisfied, tickled to death, 
Bottle o whiskey on my shelf. 

Wake up ole rounder, time to go, 
Money-makin man done pass yo do . 

In addition to the fact that the growing tendency on the 



5 2 5] THE SOCIAL S TAT U S OF THE NEGRO 2 2I 

part of the younger negroes to do as little work as possible 
is making the situation more acute, it is easily seen that the 
criminal ranks are increasing rather than decreasing be 
cause of these worthless negroes. From idleness to reck 
lessness and theft, the negro easily develops from the va 
grant, the bum, the hobo, the bully boy, the eastman, the 
rounder, the creeper, to the " bad man " and the criminal. 
Whiskey, beer, pistols, knives and guns taken with idleness 
make the final combination. Thus the morals of the negro 
laborer vary as the efficiency of his work. The social status 
of the Negro is interdependent with his application as a 
workman of industry. With the Negro s present stage of 
development his salvation can be worked out through no 
better medium than that based on good, honest toil. 

The rate of wages paid the ordinary laborer has increased 
to a marked degree within the last few years. The crying 
need for industrious laborers and efficient labor has caused 
a steady demand for the better workers at unusually good 
wages. A decade ago the unskilled laborer received from 
fifty to seventy-five cents per day where to-day he is paid 
from seventy-five cents to a dollar and a half. The monthly 
laborer received from six to nine dollars per month where 
he now gets from twelve to fifteen dollars ; many, indeed, re 
ceive from eighteen to twenty-five dollars a month. While 
the demand for negro skilled labor is less felt than for the 
unskilled, they are paid from one to four dollars per day. 
The industrious negro woman makes from two to six dollars 
a week with her laundry and cooking. It is not possible 
to ascertain the exact income of the average negro. His 
wages vary ; his income is neither fixed nor regular. A close 
study of the negro s social habits will show the various 
sources of his instalments of money. His living expenses 
cost him scarcely more than a third of his total income from 
all sources. If the Negro would work regularly and spend 



222 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [526 

his money judiciously, he would have a reasonable amount 
of prosperity. It has been observed that he does not do the 
former; neither does he spend his earnings wisely. A com 
paratively small amount, it has been observed, goes for pro 
visions and home improvement. He spends the greater 
part of the money away from those who pay him; perhaps 
the greater part goes for the satisfaction of the Negro s 
own peculiar social wants, lodge, church, entertainment, 
and whatever pleases his fancy. He pays a great deal for 
fines, to the city treasury. A town having from five to ten 
hundred negro inhabitants receives annually from five to 
twelve hundred dollars in the payment of fines placed upon 
negroes who have been convicted in court. Many of these 
fines are paid by whites, while the negroes in turn work out 
the time. A general estimate of the Negro s conception of 
expenditures may be given. For the common mass the im 
portance given the relative items indicates what the ideal 
state of conditions would be. While house rent and food are 
often so imperative as to exclude other items for the time 
being, still they are secondary in the social concept. The 
order may be stated: For the case of the organized family, 
expenditures are considered (i) churches and lodges, in 
cluding the varied social functions and demands; (2) cloth 
ing; (3) " unnecessaries," including luxuries, trinkets, etc.; 
(4) house rent; (5) food, and (6) fuel. In the case of 
the " high-quality " idlers and " rounders " the order is (i) 
clothing, (2) lodges and social expenses, (3) unnecessaries 
and (4) food. They can easily find a place to " stay ". 
With the lowest class of loafers and itinerant laborers the 
care is for (i) unnecessaries, (2) a place to sleep, (3) some 
thing to eat. The better class of laborers fall into the first 
general type. 

As a property owner, the Negro does not play so import 
ant a part in the community. Comparisons between the real 



527] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 

and personal properties of the negroes with that of the whites 
show a marked contrast. The amount of personal property 
assessed per capita among the negroes averages from four 
to ten dollars ; the amount of real property per capita varies 
from fifteen to thirty dollars, making the total amount of 
property among the negroes from twenty to forty dollars 
per capita. With the whites of the same communities the 
average per capita of personal property varies from mree 
hundred to six hundred dollars; and of real property from 
three hundred to five hundred dollars, or a total or from 
six hundred to eleven hundred dollars per capita. Among 
the negroes the personal property is distributed among some 
twenty-five per cent and the real property is owned by some 
forty per cent of the negro population. It is true, however, 
that records of personal property are very inaccurate and 
further investigations indicate that the negroes own con 
siderably more personal property than is assessed to them, 
consisting of small articles. In a careful study the omission 
of articles of small value is much more noticeable among 
the negroes owing to the fact that the negroes own less 
belongings. Of the real property not less than fifty per 
cent is reported to the authorities assessing in the name of 
women or those not required to pay poll tax. This is done 
in order to prevent the confiscation of property for debts 
and taxes. Few negroes pay the poll tax, and the laws re 
lating to the enforcement of its payment are rarely carried 
out. The Negro cannot or does not care to vote and he sees 
no necessity for paying the tax. If the officers are ques 
tioned in regard to the non-payment of this tax, they simply 
reply that few negroes ever pay it and the failure to pay it 
elicits no surprise; further than such a general comment, 
little is thought of it. Houses and lots constitute a large 
part of the property recorded to negroes. Many of these 
are mortgaged to the whites, others are nearly paid for, 



224 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [528 

while still others are free from debt. In addition to the 
taxable property usually assessed, the negroes own a good 
many hogs, cows, chickens and turkeys; the dog should not 
be left out of the consideration, though the town negroes 
do not own so many as the country negroes. According 
to the tax books, the negroes own no fire arms, or practi 
cally none. As a matter of fact, however, they own many 
pistols. The younger negroes take great pride in keeping 
a " gun " at hand for all occasions. It would seem that the 
negroes own a relatively larger number of pistols than the 
whites, though few guns of other kinds are found. So the 
hardware dealers report that the negroes buy many car 
tridges. On the whole the substantial property of the Negro 
is not increasing to any marked degree, if at all. Taking 
into consideration the corresponding conditions of the whites 
and the improved opportunities for gaining property, the 
Negro appears to be going backwards. A study of his 
expenditures and the social life of church and lodge will 
indicate much of the explanation for this state of affairs. 
Perhaps conditions in the fraternal organizations give the 
best estimate of the negro s economic tendencies. There 
are, however, a few negroes who seem to be able to save 
their money; those who have property are thus gaining, in 
many cases, while the great masses accumulate nothing. 
The average negro seems to be moved neither by a desire to 
accumulate property nor to prepare for a day of need. It 
is little surprising, then, to find poverty the ruling condition. 
Just as ignorance, negligence, shiftlessness, vice, intemper 
ance and weakness in the home were shown to lead to dis 
ease and to intensify each, so they are also the causes 
for continued poverty among the negroes. The fraternal 
orders are attempting to own property in the form of banks, 
schools, cotton-oil mills, and the like, for which they assess 
members freely. But they retard the growth of individual 



529] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 225 

property all the while; so, too, much money is wasted in 
quickly-gotten-up stock companies which rarely materialize. 
And after all, the Negro s capacity as a property gainer and 
owner must be measured by that of individuals rather than 
by that of a few organizations. 

In spite of the unfavorable conditions already mentioned 
as being correlated with negro life and work, the Negro 
nevertheless has a most distinctive and interesting society 
of his own. To understand all its phases one must take into 
consideration the facts recited in the entire story of the 
Negro s activities. Certain characteristic features of his 
social life may indicate, however, the main qualities of his 
social intercourse. With the Negro society is the means of 
satisfying other wants besides the simple craving for food. 
It is more important for satisfying various immediate wants 
than it is for the production of industry. The Negro is 
essentially gregarious and loves companionship. He very 
naturally seeks companionship, whether it be of similar 
tastes and natures or not. This gregarious feeling is mani 
fested naturally and continually. It has its special qualities 
to be sought and its apparent prerequisites to be fulfilled. 
It is seen in his every-day life, in his church and lodge, and 
in various other social gatherings. A great part of what the 
average negro conceives to be real life is found in that 
common hilariousness which marks all occasions of festivity 
and freedom from duties. 

Sunday is a " big day " for the Negro. He rushes 
through his morning s work, if he is employed, and is off. 
He clothes himself with the best that he has ; he calls. He 
goes to church and Sunday-school. He joins small groups 
at a friend s house or gate, on the street or at church. Such 
groups may be seen on the streets at many times during the 
day, especially among the younger negroes, who include 
many well-dressed " sports ". He enjoys conversation that 



226 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [530 

is lively and characteristic; he feels important. His hat is 
on the side or back of his head. Sunday is also his big driv 
ing day and those who are fortunate enough to obtain turn 
outs enjoy this distinction. Many also ride on the trains on 
Sunday, taking advantage of special rates and free time. 
Few negroes are willing to work on Sunday afternoon. 
Large numbers gather at the depot Sunday afternoon to 
see the train and meet any acquaintances. This crowd is 
perhaps as characteristic as any to be found. Here are gath 
ering large numbers, first in small groups, then in larger 
ones. If any were strangers, they are not strangers long. 
Most white people waiting for a train sit aside or walk the 
platform. The Negro in most cases does just the opposite; 
apparently he sees little, while he talks and laughs, at the 
same time jesting and mingling freely with his fellows. 
Here the negroes will be found in their lighter vein. They 
talk freely about everything imaginable. They are dressed 
in their most gorgeous apparel ; green and red, with as many 
other colors as can be had, mark the dress of those who are 
specially " stylish ". Many are dressed neatly and in good 
taste, though one may find a young fellow wearing no collar, 
but displaying a red tie, nicely tied, about his neck. A de 
scription of the finery of the women is scarcely possible. 
While the observer watches with interest a group here and 
another there, a negro will be seen to approach a group, 
and with an air of great importance will say to one of the 
number : " Let me see you a minute ". With equal dignity 
the other responds and they go aside; with gestures and ex 
pressions of apparent great concern they appear to be dis 
cussing matters of great import. Presently they return and 
enter into the conversation of the group. Now the cry is 
made that the train is coming; the climax is reached; the 
negroes rush to the cars in which are the colored passen 
gers. Those inside scarcely wait for the cars to stop before 



53 1 ] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 

their heads are out of the windows. There is great noise of 
many voices; time is short for the stop; the train pulls out 
amid shouts, laughter, and good-byes. Then in groups the 
negroes stroll to other places ; they call again. They gather 
in groups before the evening church service. Some go to 
church and remain there until a late hour ; others seek resorts 
of a very different kind; in either case they do not return 
home until a late hour. Even those who have attended 
church instead of going directly home must remain together, 
for some time; Monday is an off day. 1 

During the week the negroes gather in groups whenever, 
and wherever opportunity presents. They meet at night in 
small groups and larger ones, at home or at an agreed meet 
ing place, at church or lodge or at the social gathering. 
They love to attend all picnics and all-day services; they 
especially like the larger gatherings and " big days ", it 
matters little what may be the object of the meetings, they 
are proverbial for their good attendance. They not infre 
quently get into serious trouble at these gatherings, where 
personal difficulties often arise. 2 In addition to such gath- 

1 The negroes often fail to appear for work on Monday morning; 
many make it a rule not to work on Saturday afternoon or Monday 
morning. The most provoking feature, however, is the fact that the 
negroes get to work at a late hour on Monday; this makes the 
domestic situation somewhat more difficult. 

2 Three special exercises were to be observed at a negro church 
just outside a town; these were to extend through the greater part of 
the day being on the third Sunday of May, June, and July respectively. 
On the day of the first two men became involved in a fight with the 
result that one of them was badly cut with a knife; on the second 
occasion three men became involved in a difficulty (the trouble being 
a dispute about a woman) two of whom were shot, but not seriously 
injured; on the third Sunday one negro was killed and another shot. 
Every negro on the grounds fled and the body of the dead man was 
left to be taken up by others ; the occurrence caused great excitement 
in the town among the negroes. This is but typical wherever negroes 
meet. 



228 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [532 

erings the negroes " have somewhere to go " practically 
every night ; it is generally accepted that young negroes are 
seldom at home in the evening except there be visitors. 1 

The social gatherings and entertainments fall into two 
general divisions: those which are held under the auspices 
of the church, and those which are not. In the first class 
are* the numerous " socials " held for church benefits and 
charitable purposes. Among these may be mentioned box 
suppers, open-door suppers, banquets, feasts, torch-light pro 
cessions and receptions. The methods of entertainment and 
collecting of fees do not differ materially. A short descrip 
tion of some of their church entertainments will suffice. 

The torch-light procession and supper is more elaborate 
than the average social : A starting place is fixed ; a bon 
fire is built and each person secures a torch of some kind 
which is lighted before the procession starts. There is some 
delay around the bon-fire and much fun indulged in. When 
all is in readiness the torches are lighted and the procession 
moves toward the church where the supper is to be had. 
While they advance in line some sing, others talk, and those 
who have brought their stringed instruments, render music. 
Such a procession presents an interesting spectacle. When 
the church is reached the torches are put aside and all who 
come forward with the admission fee prepare to enter; such 
a fee is usually fifteen and twenty-five cents. Inside the 
church are baskets of food prepared by the women ; further 
charges are not made. While eating these provisions, the 

1 Frequently young negroes do not return home at night nor do their 
parents have any idea as to their whereabouts. This is not confined 
however, to the younger fellows; the husband often goes off to a 
frolic and does not return for some time. On one occasion when 
a negro man had failed to report to his work, the "white lady" who 
employed him, sent down to his cottage to know if he was sick. The 
wife of the negro responded : " Huh, I don t know where he is ; I can t 
keep up wid my ole man ; I guess he ain t dead." 



533] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 2 2Q 

negroes entertain themselves in various ways; they talk and 
laugh, ask and answer conundrums and riddles, have various 
jokes and amusements, together with music, and sometimes 
the graphophone. The supper lasts until eleven or twelve 
o clock. The " banquet " is very similar to the torch-light 
supper except that the procession is omitted; so with the 
" box supper ". The " feast " is conducted on a slightly 
different plan: The women prepare baskets as before; in 
this case there is no charge for admission. Ea,ch woman 
selects a man who is to buy her basket; for this he pays 
twenty-five or fifty cents. 1 Those who do not buy are called 
" beggars " and are served promiscuously. On such occa 
sions the church is supposed to be decorated; it is after 
social intercourse that the refreshments are brought out. 
In each community there are many such socials during the 
year, each church, as a rule, holding from five to twelve. 2 
Besides the church entertainments others are given by in 
dividuals. Concerts, banquets, " at home " parties, moon 
light picnics, dances, and various socials are frequent. At 
the home parties, they " joke, laugh, stroll, return, sing and 
dance " until late in the night. The description of one of 
these dances would be repulsive. The negroes have " good 

1 Among the negroes " the ladies " are nowhere more important than 
in the church work ; the men take pride in the work done by them. 
On such occasions as have been described these women preside with 
much grace and pleasing manner, as they are seen by the " gentlemen." 
The men and boys make special efforts to attend the suppers and buy 
from the women. The youngsters feel that they are in desperate 
straits if the time for the social finds them without the necessary 
money. " Please, Mister John, jes let me have a quarter, jes dis 
one time an I sho will work jes long as you wants me; I jes got 
to have it ; my woman s over to de church an I ain t got nothin to buy 
a box." 

2 Several churches reported from twelve to eighteen church socials 
of various kinds during the year. 



230 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [534 

times " on such occasions and will go a long distance to at 
tend. The whole trend of the dance is toward physical 
excitation; they are without order and the influence is totally 
bad. 1 Many home parties are arranged by individuals 
(mostly men) who expect to make a profit selling ice cream, 
lunches or lemonade among their friends whom they have 
called in. The negroes appear to enjoy all such entertain 
ments, and the manager is looked upon as a kind of a hero. 
It is true, however, that such a social may end in a free-for- 
all fight, caused by some fellow stealing a dainty, or by 
other trifling matters. In such cases the manager not only 
loses, but is held responsible for the entire disturbance. 
Not infrequently he sells whiskey on such an occasion. 
Many of the capital crimes committed by the negroes among 
themselves are committed at these gatherings. The town 
negro loves to go to the " country " to the dance or picnic, 
where he again almost invariably gets into some mischief 
in conflict with his rural brother. 

Beside the above-mentioned ways of social enjoyment, the 
Negro has various means of satisfying his social wants. 
The church services, the funeral services, lodge meetings 
and women s societies, conventions and other phases of 
church and lodge life play an important part. The Negro 

1 The dance among the present-day negroes lacks the decorum and 
decency of the old time dances given by the darkies; whatever of 
decency might belong to it is taken away by its coarseness. Further, 
young boys often say that they have learned the most vulgar songs 
at a dance and "they sho wus havin a good time." 

2 The town negro enjoys going to the country for several reasons. 
He has somewhere to go and receives special gratification in having 
gone to something away from his home ; he believes that " they have 
good times in the country"; he is shown much deference by the 
"womens" in the country. He thus feels himself distinguished and 
consequently is overbearing in his manner; this offends the country 
negro who often calls him to account. Town negroes also fight 
among themselves at the country entertainment. 



535] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 231 

appears never to tire of music and where concerts or min 
strels appear they love to attend and will make determined 
efforts to obtain money for this purpose. Similar efforts 
are made to go on railroad excursions. Great numbers of 
negroes take advantage of special excursions and few occa 
sions are looked forward to with more general anticipation. 
On these trips the Negro gets some of his knowledge of 
persons and things; and much of his grace and affability. 
Here, too, there is much of strife and disorder, perhaps no 
where more so. No one can completely appreciate the Negro 
until he has seen him on such a trip. The Negro enjoys 
most games ; perhaps " marbles " is the favorite with the 
young fellows ; in base-ball season they play this game when 
there is no conflict with other plans. The well-known and 
proverbial " shootin craps " seems to appeal irresistibly to 
the average negro*, and he seeks every occasion to enjoy this 
pastime, though it leads to many arrests. In all these gath 
erings, whether it be at home with a small number of friends, 
picking the guitar, or " shootin craps ", or at church, or 
at a grand " literary social ", the Negro is seemingly ob 
livious of fatigue, and prolongs his pleasures to undue hours 
of the night, heedless of the weather or health conditions, or 
the duties of the morrow. 

While the Negro is losing much of his cheerfulness his 
song, nevertheless, reveals much of the real negro self in 
his freer moods. Perhaps he is very much less disposed to 
sing while at work; he is more inclined to silence and mor- 
oseness. The Negro, notwithstanding, has more songs of 
the secular kind than he had in former days. The love of 
song and music is still characteristic. His songs are of a 
different kind, and since they are more representative of his 
life, they are thus sung more within the race and at social 
gatherings. The Negro has a song for every occasion; yet 
the song is adapted to all groups. It may well be said that 



232 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [536 

the Negro sings on all occasions; it is but natural that the 
song should become the Negro s song, and that he should 
sing it in as many ways and on as many occasions as there 
are different scenes in his life. Wherever the negro is seen 
he may be heard singing, chanting, humming, or whistling 
a tune at some stage of his activity. In the morning the 
first sound that one hears along with the birds is the clear 
tone of the negro s tune. The laborers sing and whistle as 
they go to their work and when they return from it. The 
children sometimes sing continuously for hours, the matter 
of song being an unconscious accompaniment to their mo 
tions. Loafers and vagrants sing as they wander from place 
to place or while they tarry for a while in each locality. 
Women sing while working at home or while tending the 
children ; they sing while they wash and iron or cook for the 
whites. There is satisfaction in song and it harmonizes the 
surroundings. " Comrades " in rags and dirty overalls 
grin and sing their arguments to prove that they are " musi 
cal coons ". The deliberation of a puzzled moment is often 
relieved by the singing of a simple song, and mischief, mean 
ness, or impulse becomes an enacted fact. The dusky group 
of boys vie with each other in knowing and singing the 
" moest " songs ; " cause I m a nigger don t cut no figger ", 
sings one to the accompaniment of his feet, then turns with 
brag to " Who s a nigger ? I knows all de new song, my 
self." Pleasant circumstances evoke the best environment 
for song; sensuous pleasures prepare the feeling for re 
sponse. One need not mention the scenes O f the half-drunk 
negroes with their unlimited supply of songs and their 
equally persistent efforts to render them over and over again. 
The Negro is o<ften at his best while eating a good meal set 
out before him with plenty of time and no restraint ; he sings 
" grace " to his dinner with consumate skill. The crowd 
of darkies treated to all the watermelons that they can eat 



537] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 233 

are jolly good " songsters " after they have indulged freely 
in a face-washing and rine battle. " Music physicianers ", 
" musicianers " and " songsters " add much to the total 
of negro gayety and satisfaction. From the crap game 
of the youngsters to that of the idlers and profes 
sionals ; from the rounders and loafers to the roust 
abouts at play and at work; from the negro cabin tp the 
docks, the song of the Negro may be heard in its char 
acteristic measures. Thanksgiving and Christmas, dance 
and frolic, corn-shucking and log-rolling, with the various 
other activities of work bring forth songs of all kinds. 
Uncle and auntie, Dinky and Titsy, Fess and Cornelius, and 
the sundry horde of happy darkies swell the total of song 
and chorus. 1 

It will thus be seen that the Negro is very much occupied 
in a social way. But to point out a social standard by which 
he is governed is a difficult thing to do. Certainly there 
is great need of social conventions by which they shall gov 
ern their conduct. Little accurate information is to be had 
in reference to the number of divorces among any large 
number of negroes ; so far as has been ascertained, there 
are comparatively few formal divorces. There are many 
cases of separation of husband and wife, sometimes perma 
nent, generally only for the time being. The negroes in 
their social life are, for the most part, careless in action and 
boisterous in their conversation. They are coarse and sens 
ual in their association. The average young negro does 
not know what it is to think seriously about better things, 

1 Such a reference to the Negro s songs only suggests the part which 
song plays in his pleasures. For further reference, see the songs and 
interpretations in the volume on Negro Folk Song and Folk-Thought 
to which reference has been made in the preface. See also " Re 
ligious Folk- Songs of the Southern Negroes " in The American 
Journal of Religious Psychology and Education, vol. iii, pp. 265-365. 



234 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [538 

and the average group never discusses for any length of time 
at their chance meetings anything of serious import. Their 
lives are spent in emptiness. There is in the negro commu 
nity life little of the spirit of self-sacrifice for another s 
good or for the establishment of a better unit of society. 
So, ^oo, the social affections, benevolence, conscientiousness, 
and ambition appear to be almost wholly lacking in the 
Negro in the present society of the negroes in the South. 

It remains to note further the attitude of youth to old 
age, and to call attention to the Negro s ideas of caste. The 
attitude of their young people toward the older ones is a good 
test for the possibilities of any people. The degrees of re 
spect for women, children and age is a standard measure 
of the better social nature. Much has been observed con 
cerning the lack of these qualities in many of the negroes.. 
Perhaps their carelessness, thoughtlessness and ignorance 
have never reached the stage of a lack of respect for women 
and children; but in the case of the young men, there is 
much positive haughtiness and scorn of advice from the 
older generation. It may be well to quote one of their num 
ber, a teacher of thirty, who knows conditions well, and 
states them impartially and conservatively : 

I said that the relation between the old men and the young 
men was not always pleasing. For there exists a rivalry 
among them for supremacy, and in nine cases out of ten if the 
young man is rated as an educated man, he succeeds. Our 
young men do not put much stress on the experience of the 
older men. The old men must use what the young men call 
" good English." Failing in this, he brings reproach upon his 
head. He is criticised in his words and gestures, and his 
words are looked after so carefully that whatever he might 
say is lost and he falls into the pit prepared for him by the 
younger men. There does not exist between the fathers and 
sons of the negro race that paternal relation which should 



539 ] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 235 

exist. The son is a terror to the family. He wears finery 
and his clothes are of the latest style. He takes in all the 
gatherings, and sleeps while the father feeds the stock or 
attends to other work. This ought not so to be. However, 
there are some young men of color who are beneficial to the 
race and loyal to their family, and a blessing to the com 
munity in which they live, dispensing lasting good wherever 
they go. It is enough to say that open rupture and/ race 
riots have often been averted by the conservatism of the 
old men of the Anglo-Saxon, and Afro-American races. 

Woman occupies an important place among the negroes. 
Among the better class of negroes many flattering things 
are said of their women. In general, it must be said that 
the Negro holds woman in high esteem, according to his 
own standards. Negro men give of their money freely to 
the support of their women; negro women are recognized 
good workers and providers. It is true, however, that the 
negro woman does not have exacting requirements to meet 
in her standards of living. The attitude toward woman 
seems to be a matter of fact one governed by the general 
principles and conditions already described. " Woman ", 
" sweetheart ", " honey ", " honey-babe ", " babe ", " girl " 
are all more or less synonomous with the object of physical 
affection. The worst comment of the negroes upon their 
women is the fact that they are not expected always to be 
faithful and that they are often considered unclean. Still 
they are more unmoral than immoral, and the general status 
of negro women and their place in the total of negro life are 
not inconsistent with the whole situation of negro environ 
ment and character. 1 

Among the negroes there are many petty jealousies and 
rivalries. Envy runs riot when there is opportunity for ex- 

1 See op. cit., Chapters III, IV, for ideas of negro women. 



236 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [540 

citement. Such jealousy manifests itself in the love affairs 
between man and woman. It is strong in both sexes and 
among the men it causes many fights and much crime, while 
among the women, it is more marked and leads to many 
quarrels and personal encounters. It is further manifest in 
the "attitude of the less prosperous and less fortunate toward 
those who are more successful. It shows itself in church 
and school and hinders permanent results to a marked de 
gree. It is manifested in a slightly different way by those 
who laud their superior advantages and attractiveness over 
those whom they believe to be their inferiors. This last 
type of rivalry when developed to a greater degree becomes 
social prejudice. Many people may be surprised to know 
that even in some small communities social prejudice exists 
among the negroes. Many negroes think the whites guilty 
of a great wrong because they do not consider the negro 
a social equal ; yet they themselves pretend to be very much 
offended if they are asked to associate with certain negroes 
who are pure blacks. 1 However, when opportunity is of 
fered for association, individual with individual, they accept 
it without hesitation, not to raise up the lower, but to de 
grade both classes. In the smaller communities individuals 
do not hesitate to associate with individuals, but they do not 
wish to be considered in the same class. One of the leading 
negro preachers recently said at a conference held in the in 
terest of better homes and home life, after he had urged his 
hearers to visit one another : " To this some will put in ob 
jection : Will not these people presume upon our social 
reserve? Will not the higher class be dragged down by the 
lower? To the first of these I would say that there is not 
the least danger of the plainest people mistaking our kindly 

1 The basis of such distinctions seems to be ideas of caste rather 
than prejudice. 



5 4l] THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE NEGRO 237 

interest for an invitation to our private social functions." 
Such feelings of social superiority are often pronounced 
and are manifested in many amusing ways. Along with the 
consideration of this phase of negro life, it will be well for 
the negro leaders to consider a more important duty. Un 
less they are willing to struggle upward; unless they are 
willing to recognize purity of family life and race pride, and 
unless they are willing to put off much of the superfluous 
and superficial notions of their social life and practices, the 
results may well be considered doubtful. For what service 
does a negro who feels no pride in his race render in the 
economic bettering of his society, or in the development of 
those permanent and lasting qualities which are useful to 
a race? It is refreshing to hear many leading negroes at 
recent church, fraternal, and business associations, speak out 
for race pride and a determination to strive for the upbuild 
ing of their race. They should begin with present advan 
tages and continue to the utmost; such men will establish 
worth and recognition along the proper lines. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO AND THEIR RELATION TO 

CONDUCT x 

IT has been assumed generally that the Negro in America 
is of a highly emotional nature. Before and since the war 
he has been represented as the exponent of certain kinds of 
feelings and of the emotional nature. Many writers have 
emphasized various forms of his emotions and have de 
scribed the feelings of the black folks with no little skill. 
The sadder strains have been emphasized and undue em 
phasis has been placed upon the expression of the emotions 
as a psychical influence. Likewise it had been generally as 
sumed that such emotions were the results of a condition of 
slavery and of habits of life common to the negroes in 
America. Little thought has been given to the Negro s in 
heritance and to the study of his physiological and psycho 
logical qualities, as such. Scientific students, too, have as 
sumed that the Negro was differentiated by a distinctive 

1 This chapter is offered only as a general suggestive outline of a 
study of the Negro s emotions in which the evidences taken from 
the Negro s private and social life were given to illustrate the con 
clusion here summarized. The greater part of this concrete and 
specific evidence it has been necessary to omit in order to bring the 
chapter within the scope of this work. Besides, the statements here 
made are only tentative pending the final results of experimental 
studies. However, the facts herein presented may be correlated with 
the foregoing chapters and with the final chapter and in this way 
much of the Negro s general status and conduct may be better under 
stood. 

238 [542 



UNIVERSITY i 

OF 



EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 239 

emotional development. It thus becomes necessary to en 
quire into the exact nature of the Negro s emotions and their 
causal relation to his society. Is it true that material for the 
study of the primitive emotions is abundant in the feeling 
processes of the negroes ? Is it possible to deny that in the 
Negro s emotional states may be found intermediate stages 
of development, the understanding of which will be most 
valuable in the study of individual and social conduct V 

The question which has been raised may be emphasized 
further by the statement that the primitive emotions pre 
dominate to a marked degree among the negroes. Fur 
thermore, they are largely physiological with little objective 
content. The Negro reveals himself a mass of physiological 
reactions and reflexes. His whole being is volatile, without 
continuous or stable form, easily disturbed, as easily quieted. 
With all this there is yet a persistency and intensity devel 
oped by the constant flow of emotional currents along the 
tracts of least resistance. With the passing of the immediate 
stimulus, therefore, the emotion is likely to cease; likewise 
the feeling lasts only while the process of immediate stimula 
tion and reaction is going on. A strong physical organism 
with powerful sensuous capacity thus gives the Negro a rich 
emotional nature, which together with habituation and 
facility, with little inhibition save that of conflicting emo 
tions, renders him pre-eminently subject to the feeling states. 
Add to this the fact that the Negro is unable to attend in- 
tellectualy to other things when the feelings are aroused and 
the result may be understood. 

In order to develop this viewpoint it is necessary to ex 
amine the primitive emotions most prevalent among the 
negroes. The way will then be open for a statement of 
general conclusions, the nature of which, for brevity and 
clearness, has already been indicated in the preceding para 
graph. First, the characteristics of fear may be noted. 



240 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [544 

Among the negroes forms of fear are less definitely marked, 
less concrete and specific than among the whites, so far as 
the general manifestations and expressions go. Fear is 
most common as a feeling apart from individual experi 
ence. A fear-impulse apparently influences and determines 
to a large degree all forms of fear, so that there is a con 
tinuous sub-feeling of fear among the common mass of 
negroes. It thus happens that fear is easily excited and 
the Negro is ready to run at any surprising or suspicious 
turn of affairs. He feels a latent expectation that some 
thing may disturb his easy-going life so that what appears 
to be a feeling of guilt is quickly aroused into a feeling of 
fear, which in turn intensifies the former feeling. In every 
day life this has developed in the Negro into a feeling that 
he may at least be guilty of something either now, in the 
past or in the future. This feeling, too, often reveals the 
secret doings of the negroes who would not otherwise be 
suspected. It is manifest in many ways and on many occa 
sions both by individuals and by crowds of negroes in times 
of excitement. Such a state of fear leads the negroes to 
do many unnecessary and ridiculous things. In a number 
of experiments made by superintendents of farm and camp 
labor it has been found most expedient to first insure the 
negroes against all forms of fear from officers and from 
professional negro gamblers. 

The Negro is afraid of all officers of the law to a ridicul 
ous extent. It is a proverbial fear, a matter for fun and 
ribaldry when no danger is near, a matter of extreme ex 
citement when there is immediate possibility of a visit from 
such officers. This has given rise to a common habit 
among many negroes of continuous migration from one 
locality to another. In such experiences the negro makes 
a good fugitive. The records of officers and private ob 
servers is full of rich illustrations. Likewise the Negro 



545 ] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 241 

feels fear toward those persons to whom he has failed to 
keep a promise, from whom he has stolen small things or 
to whom he owes something. His attitude toward such 
persons is one of adept slyness until he is brought face to 
face with the object of fear, when he is seized with what, 
for the moment, approaches terror. While fear is thus 
present the negro is active in the doing of what he believes 
is demanded. Again, the average negro is afraid of all 
suspicious persons, of strangers, of negroes who have rep 
utations of notoriety. His doors are barricaded at night 
and many precautions are taken as a result of immediate 
suggestion. When no cause for fear is evident he goes to 
the other extreme. When in excitement from fear the 
Negro is without control, he sees all sorts of images and 
hears all sorts of sounds. 

Much of the Negro s fear may be explained by heredity, 
through habituation and superstition. He fears super 
stitious objects, conjurers and magic workers. He fears 
thunder and lightning, changes of the weather, eclipses, 
explosions and such experiences as indicate the mysterious, 
to a marked degree. A similar feeling of fear is mani 
fested toward God, the devil, heaven, hell, which assumes 
various forms. Morbid fears are common and sometimes 
continuous, such as the fear of death and the dead, the fear 
of not being buried and various imaginary fears. 

The second stage of fear, that based upon individual ex 
perience and emotional memory, is less marked than the 
first. Perhaps the Negro s vivid-vague imagination ac 
counts for much of the fear-state in general. It also ap 
parently accounts for the intensity of the more concrete 
forms of fear that are immediate. The Negro is very 
much afraid of death, yet he has little fear of incurring 
death by the riding of rods, climbing to dangerous heights 
and other feats of daring, unless he is reminded that such 



242 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [546 

an outcome is likely. That is, the Negro may become fear 
less when the self-feeling gives him joy in doing the dan 
gerous. Again, the Negro does not fear ill-health until 
it has brought him to the contemplation of death. It is 
thus difficult to state clearly special forms of fear as they 
may be seen among the negroes. The Negro is afraid 
of certain animals; he fears the dog, the black cat, bulls, 
wild animals to an extreme degree. Negroes are much 
afraid of pistols, knives and weapons in general when in 
the possession of others. The Negro shows little cour 
age in trying circumstances. The fear manifested in the 
crowd, the panic or riot is not unlike that of the individual 
much intensified. It appears without bounds. 

The manifestations of fear and its physical signs are 
several according to the intensity of the fear. With fear 
of the first stage the attitude is one of restlessness, uneasi 
ness, and in the case of more intense fright, terror, while 
a sneakish, roguish expression is characteristic of the less 
intense fear of being detected by someone. The furtive 
shifting of the eye constitutes the most noticeable expres 
sion. When the fear of the second stage is only moderate 
the muscles are tense, eyes roll with much of the whites 
showing, and a general state of restlessness and uneasiness, 
shows him ready to run. When such a fear becomes in 
tense there is greater tension of the muscles, the white of 
the eye shows more, with eye apparently almost protruding, 
excitement and terror, begging, pleading, dancing, hiding, 
running, striking wildly follow. 

Like fear, anger is easily excited in the negro, revealing 
a powerful impulse which but needs to be set off by the 
proper stimulus. When once excited it is generally un 
controllable but is easily forgotten when once it has passed. 
The great majority of examples where anger has been ob 
served belong in the one class of animal passion, mo- 



EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 



243 



mentarily excited. Righteous anger and indignation 
caused by a series of long-standing events, is seldom noticed. 
In those instances where anger of longer standing has been 
found, it is often the outward expression of a perverted 
notion, which has for its end personal satisfaction in the 
gratification of the animal impulse. The fundamental 
causes of anger in the negro seem to arise from inherited 
impulses and the accidental causes which give direction to 
outbursts of anger are good indications of the state of 
character development to which the individuals have come. 
Anger in its epileptic form is coming to assume a more 
complete state in the form of dementia. It is seen in its 
simplest form in the case of negro women fighting and 
quarreling. It rarely takes the form of suicide, the near 
est approach being the infliction of bodily pain or threats 
of violence because a personal whim is not granted. Per 
haps anger never approaches acute mania, though the mani 
festations in quarrels and tights appear to be of such a 
nature. 

Anger is found in its most violent form among negro 
women in their quarrels and fights, if appearances are to 
be relied upon. These negroes show absolutely no re 
straint. No adequate description of them can be given. 
At once ridiculous and pathetic, they stand in a class of 
their own. Torrents of the most violent abuse imaginable, 
words coined and used for the occasion, cursings and every 
form of profanity these are the prelude. Threats are 
more common than actions and the usual conviction can 
be only for disturbing the peace or for assault and battery. 
However, knives and razors are not infrequently brought 
into play and slight wounds are often the outcome; some 
times more serious ones are inflicted. During excitement 
of this kind such negroes are raving amazons, as it were, 
apparently beyond control, growing madder and madder 



244 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [548 

each moment, eyes rolling, lips protruding, feet stamping, 
pawing, gesticulating with the usual accompaniments of 
anger. This frenzied madness, containing also a large 
degree of pleasurable feeling, seems beyond control to all 
powers of the negro community. While the positive knowl- 
e dge of a fine and imprisonment has little or no restraining 
power, it has been learned that the fury can quickly be 
checked by eliminating the pleasurable element. 1 With the 
men the manifestations are less violent and are more easily 
subjected to control, inasmuch as they are more open to 
restraining influences. Their anger, however, results in 
more harmful results, and homicides are very frequent. 
Anger in the Negro seems to summon a wild and inex 
pressible desire and a blind instinct to destroy, and if the 
conditions are favorable, the destruction follows. The great 
majority of capital crimes committed by the negroes occur 
in this way. In many cases the desperate character sud 
denly becomes a wild and frantic maniac killing every one 
within his power. While such a condition is doubtless much 
dependent upon former broodings and plans to injure others, 
the coming of a posse unexpectedly, for instance, turns the 
full force of the negro s passion loose, and undoubtedly the 
ruling passion is anger. A number of instances have been 
noted in which the angered negro has bitten off an ear or 
finger and even the nose of his victim. 

1 One who had almost despaired of having peace and effective work 
among his laborers, because of the constant quarreling and fighting 
of some of the negro women on the place, decided to try a new plan. 
To each of two negro women whom he had tried in vain to quiet 
even to a reasonable degree, when it looked as if they would tear 
each other to pieces the very next moment, he gave a large butcher 
knife and pistol (which was empty), after the negroes had been tied 
together with a cord so that they could not separate more than a 
few feet. He then told them to " go for each other " and settle the 
matter and do it quickly. And there was immediate peace. 



EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 245 

The Negro, however, sometimes plans to injure those 
who are the object of his anger, and if he has all the ad 
vantage on his side, he will provoke occasion to give vent 
to his feelings. But such a feeling is of short duration. 
Sometimes the Negro is very determined in his purpose to 
wreak vengeance, and for a time goes quietly about his 
plans, but he rarely persists; rather his fury is abated and 
soon forgotten. Such is the general quality of the aftger 
commonly found among the negroes. There is observed 
too a milder form of anger caused by wounded feelings 
or disappointment. This is rarely expressed in action, 
more generally in the everyday language of abuse so com 
mon among the negroes. Threats made against the of 
fending party to others and made in a bragging monologue, 
appear to give great satisfaction. Some negroes, however, 
are willing to back up their words by deeds. When thor 
oughly angry the Negro is irresponsible and apparently 
void of human feelings or sympathy. In the crowd it not 
infrequently happens that the individual will work himself 
into a frenzy, beginning with simple boasts and threats, 
reinforced by a weapon and what he feels is admiration 
from the crowd. Intoxicants have such an effect upon the 
Negro s conduct. Such a tendency and facility for violent 
explosions renders the group of negroes peculiarly liable to 
crime and their society unsocial. 

The accidental causes which arouse the Negro s anger 
are found in circumstances such as have been indicated 
and in sudden physical stimuli. The Negro is easily an 
gered by those whom he thinks his inferiors. He is easily 
angered by members of his own race and is easily pro 
voked when no other emotion is felt to conflict or when 
fear or jealousy combine. Many young negroes manifest 
an ugly attitude toward white children and apparently show 
anger toward them. But the Negro more rarely becomes 



246 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [550 

angry at the white man s abuse; he rather submits, and 
his matter-of-fact yielding takes away the possibility of a 
momentary excitement of anger, while his spirit of sullen- 
ness afterwards hardly goes so far as anger. He is char 
acterized by the lack of vindictiveness so far as thought or 
feeling take the form O f action. There is, then, in the typi 
cal negro little of the intellectual anger intermingled with 
the emotional, as compared with other forms of anger and 
with the same emotion among the whites. 

A further analysis of the negro s anger indicates that a 
very great part has its origin in jealousy over persons. 
This is not only true of the women, who fight and quarrel 
because of jealousy and envy, but it is also true of the men, 
and it would appear that at least eighty per cent of the 
fights and personal encounters among the negroes are or 
dinarily caused by the woman in the case. And just as 
jealousy leads to intensity of the animal passion peculiarly 
in the case of the negroes, so with this emotion go laughter, 
shrieking, singing and various expressions of wanton 
recklessness and morbid pleasure in the pouring-out of the 
animal passion. The vocabulary used to give expression 
to feelings, the probable reflex origin of his anger, possibili 
ties of restraint in training, in reflection, in the presence of 
witnesses, and what the treatment should be, will furnish 
interesting phases of the subject in connection with the 
general interpretation of the Negro s status. 

Again, in the case of sympathy and the tender emotion, 
the nature of the feelings indicates that they are more 
hereditary than intellectual development. Or perhaps such 
emotions have developed only incompletely, and the more 
intellectual as well as the spontaneous expressions of real 
sympathy are governed much by feeling in general or by 
the special forms of sensations. Fear and self-feeling ap 
pear to completely overshadow what might otherwise de- 



55 1 ] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 247 

velop into real sympathy. But where there is no restraint, 
and the sympathy conflicts with no personal interest or un 
pleasant effort, the physiological form of the emotion is 
clearly seen. Such is spontaneous sympathy of the negroes 
for each other and for an occasion in their public meetings. 
At church they are in sympathy with every word and motion 
of the preacher, and they are in sympathy with each other s 
movements. They sanction what the preacher has to say, 
whether they understand it or not, and their exclamations 
of assent include many regular forms of " amens." They 
nod, bow, their bodies sway to and fro according to the 
stage of the sermon, until yielding to the impulse there is a 
perfect harmony of bodily rhythm and a perfect rhythm of 
sympathetic feeling. So too, when the white man speaks to 
the negroes, they assume from the beginning the attitude of 
approval and there is a distinct evidence of sympathy. So it 
is in most of the meetings if no personal interest is chal 
lenged, and many negroes have been seen to nod their as 
sent weakly to everything a whiteman was saying, though 
his total utterance was the abuse of the Negro in his political 
aspirings. Under the influence of music and dancing the 
Negro has little control over his body and feet, and when 
one foot has begun to " pat " and beat time, it would in 
deed be an interesting problem to prevent others from 
joining in. An unconscious and sympathetic movement 
corresponds to each wave of rhythm in the music and to the 
movement of the fiddler. And one has yet to see the negro 
" music physicianer " picking his banjo with his feet still. 
Again the Negro easily adapts himself to various circum 
stances and a part of his imitation may be explained by 
noting the original element of sympathy that exists. The 
Negro often seems ill at ease unless he is able to conduct 
himself as those about him, and in a way feels ill-adjusted 
unless he can perform an action exactly as he knows it 



248 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [552 

should be done; on the other hand thoughts of himself and 
sympathy for his own hard time, not infrequently transcend 
the former feeling. Negroes are usually in sympathy with 
those for whom they work, if they work in harmony, and 
conimonly speak of the work and property as " ours ", and 
laud the superiority of their boss s methods to any other, 
thus showing a bit of sympathy along with the self-feeling. 
The sympathy may be one of fears. Negroes when 
panic-stricken, are easily thrown into tumult, and all are very 
likely to follow the prevailing opinion of the leader, or the 
first impression most generally becomes current. Excite 
ment spreads more rapidly among them than among the 
whites. A report of a crime, death, or sensational thing, 
and especially if it is of racial interest, appears to travel 
almost twice as fast as among the whites. The negroes 
form a medium unsurpassed for the transmission of news, 
and the lack of resistance is due partly to the sympathy 
feeling. So in superstitions, a single report with little 
foundation soon becomes a common belief. And the fear 
or belief thus quickly and easily fixed in the Negro s mind, 
can be removed only with the greatest difficulty. The 
sympathetic emotion is nowhere more prominent than in the 
tendency of the negroes to protect their criminals and 
furnish information to those who are fugitives. Race 
feeling against the white man, whether in the negative sense 
or the positive aspect, is partly one of fellow-sympathy. 
Out of this grows the society or clannish spirit of the more 
recent negro, and the secretive nature of the Negro is ex 
plained to a large degree by the same principle. The sum 
of it all may be seen in the various societies, unions, and 
orders and whatever appeals to the gregarious instinct, and 
out of these grows the increased race agitation. With them 
comes much that will build up the race within itself, and 
also many perverted notions and much wasted energy. No- 



EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 249 

where could the sympathetic feeling be analyzed better than 
in this phase. Again the Negro sympathizes much with 
his own poor, down-trodden self and often broods into sul- 
lenness and gloom over seeming injustices. Such is a racial 
sympathy. It is not observed the one toward the other. 
For in their societies they quarrel and dispute over the ma 
jority of measures that come before them, and personal 
prominence in the management of such affairs plays an im 
portant part; envy and strife are everywhere. The crim 
inal records and the testimony of many lawyers, indicate 
that a very large per cent of the negroes convicted for 
smaller crimes have been reported by other negroes who wish 
thereby to repay a grudge of short standing. It has been a 
common criticism of the negroes that they will not work to 
gether in harmony long enough to accomplish a work of 
lasting worth, and there is much to substantiate the state 
ment. Again it is the overshadowing self-feeling and in 
terest that takes away the probability of sympathy. 

Some evidences of the higher forms of sympathy may be 
seen in the working of the fraternal societies in ministering 
to the sick, the widows and the orphans, and in paying off 
benefits. While the obligation of the society upon its mem 
bers seems in every case to be the direct cause of the service, 
sympathy often grows out of the deed, and the members of 
such societies grow enthusiastic in their advocacy of the 
cause, giving these deeds of service as evidence. So it hap 
pens that the leaders of the various societies have come to 
feel, in addition to the personal gratification of succeeding 
in rivalry, an eager interest in their work. Much of the 
formal sympathy among the negroes may be observed in 
their prayers, for the preacher, the " sisters " and the 
" brethren ", the " sinner " and the " dancers ". The prayer 
is uttered with apparent feeling and it may be that a result 
ant state of sympathy is produced. Again, there is apparent 



250 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [554 

sympathy among the negroes for whites whom they have 
known for some time, or for those who have befriended 
them. In a somewhat listless way they show sympathy for 
their suffering; they come and inquire about those who are 
sick, and when one dies they ask to be permitted to go to the 
funeral and to look upon the face of the dead. This is the 
case with the older darkies for their masters or the family 
of former masters, and it is often so with the children of the 
old slaves who have remained near the children of the former 
slave owner. It is indeed an impressive scene to see these 
negroes with bared heads following the procession of the 
funeral of a white friend, and after the burial walking 
around listlessly; or if a white friend is ill, to see them 
coming and going at intervals or standing around the 
premises in silence. It is a scene which Southern whites 
are loath to give up, a sympathy which they love. Negroes 
often manifest marked sympathy for children in their plans 
and play, and miss them when sick. The older negroes 
show their sympathy by efforts to administer to the com 
fort of their little friends. The younger negroes with less 
experience seem utterly at a loss. As a people they are very 
sympathetic, governed much of course by their treatment, 
since their feelings are easily played upon. A number of 
men of broad experience have insisted that in case of sick 
ness a servant comparatively new will be most careful and 
all-attentive, whereas in a healthy state she might be care 
less. Many instances have been noted on the contrary where 
they have taken advantage of adverse conditions to demand 
more pay and if not granted they have stopped working. 
There are, however, many cases oi sympathy and fidelity 
that may not be questioned. The negro also apparently 
manifests a kind of sympathy at all funerals and burial ser 
vices among his own people, both for the ceremony and for 
those who are called upon to bury the dead. But in all cases 



555] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 251 

where the negro shows sympathy there is little outward ex 
pression. His face is set, and his eyes have the look of ap 
peal, awe and wonderment. 

Much remains to be known about the tender emotion of 
the Negro. The scenes just mentioned seem to indicate a 
feeling or sometimes real affection, blind and vague it may 
be, but having the qualities of the tender emotion. The old 
love of the slave and his master, the former love of boy com 
rades, and the faithfulness of the slave and his children to 
the master and his family, will scarcely be surpassed in the 
records of many peoples. But if this affection has passed 
so quickly, what must have been its nature? Was it the af 
fection of servitude and had it only in it the negative self- 
feeling ? Among the negroes of the present generation there 
is little of this spirit of affection seen and it becomes neces 
sary to> inquire into the nature of the tender emotion as it 
is found most generally among the negroes of to-day. 
While it is doubtful if there is enough evidence to warrant 
a full statement concerning the affections of the negroes, 
it is apparently based on the gregarious impulse and upon 
a passive sympathy rather than upon individual emotions 
intellectually developed. The emotion is rarely of long dura 
tion. The protective instinct, too, seems to have an im 
portant place in the make-up of the tender emotion, and may 
be seen in the attitude of the parent in protecting the child 
from abuse. The mother will sing to the child in her arm 
for an hour or more, and perhaps the very next moment will 
abuse it unmercifully, but she will not permit it to be abused 
by another. Jealousy resembles affection in its surface mani 
festations. On the other hand, filial affection seems to pass 
away with the coming of youth, and most negro youngsters 
apparently have no love or care for their parents. They 
wish rather to be free from parental control and work. Per 
haps the majority leave home, many do not return for a 



252 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [556 

long time, many never return, nor do these negroes inform 
their parents of their whereabouts. Many of the negro 
parents were asked if they knew where their children were. 
Few could tell exactly, many had an idea that they were at 
such and such a place, still others affirmed that they were at 
a certain place some time ago, while many knew nothing of 
them. With sometimes a vacant look of sadness in their 
eyes, with sometimes a careless manner, they declared that 
they did not know where they were. And while one can not 
affirm that appearances are true, such a state of affairs 
seems to carry with it no special sorrow. The negro mother 
rarely mourns for her wandering child, or sits up at night 
waiting for his return or thinking of him. The father 
shows little care except that of losing a laborer from his 
work. They have often been known to attempt to enter suit 
against the husband of the daughter in an effort to get her 
back for no other reason than for her work. The nature 
of the affection of the child for the parents seems to be purely 
that of dependence, and when he has outgrown this feeling 
the relation between child and parents has changed. Often 
when without food or shelter, the negro wanderer longs 
for his childhood days with the parents and appeals for pity 
as a " po boy long way from home ", " got no whar to lay 
my weary head ", or " ain t got a frien in dis worl ". But 
when his physical wants have been satisfied, he no longer 
thinks of home or parents in general. The Negro has no 
loved ones. Numbers were asked for the names of those 
whom they considered friends or whom they loved or those 
who loved them. The question was put in various ways 
with different subjects, but the returns were the same. They 
often seemed surprised at the question and answered, some 
times at once, sometimes after reflection, that there was no 
one, nor did they seem to feel the sadness of the situation. 
A few thought that a number of white people were their 



557] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 

friends. But as a rule the Negro is without friendship 
among his own people. Pathetic would seem the life that 
is lived in loneliness, nor looks to aught of love for the light 
ening of a peculiar labor, nor ever lingers by the light of a 
lasting affection. Full many a negro has served faithfully 
his day, has come to old age, neglected and forgotten by his 
race, destitute. Is it surprising that in his own emotional 
way he is thankful that his " time ain t long " or that he 
longs to pass over " de ribber " ? So they say, thus they 
sing, how shall their feeling be analyzed ? 

The negro s infatuation for his sweetheart is yet to be 
mentioned, for the lover s life constitutes the greater joy 
and consumes the greater part of the young negro s thought, 
One could never doubt this after perusing hundreds of their 
crude lyrics and love ditties. The nature of this love is dis 
cussed fully elsewhere. There is need to mention here the 
element of jealousy which, with the quality of physical at 
traction and sex-feeling, make up the complete affection. 
Negro courtship would indeed be a dull and monotonous 
matter were it not for the quarrels and fights, the infidelity 
and changeableness of parties on both sides. The negro 
lover is often unwilling to be out of the sight of her with 
whom he is infatuated, but such is invariably of short dura 
tion. The Negro is not constant, and is happy because he 
" has woman an sweetheart, too. If woman don t love 
me sweetheart do ". Jealousy is the principle means of at 
taining desired personal ends. 

Self-feeling or the sense of self is strong in the Negro, 
and is peculiarly characterized by both its positive form and 
its negative form, each in a distinctly marked degree. The 
sense of self in its positive form is expressed in the feeling 
of importance and manifests itself on various occasions and 
in many ways. Perhaps nowhere is it more marked than in 
the negro preacher, who stands lord o>f all that comes within 



254 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [558 

his domain. In the pulpit, while preaching and adminis 
tering the affairs of church, he assumes and feels that the 
destiny of the hour lies in his own importance and his 
ability to make his followers feel the same attitude. When 
visiting another church or a conference he appears to feel 
even more of such a dignity. In the home his lordly airs 
and condescending grace and manners approach the perfect 
art. He is irresistible, his self-feeling is superb. His ef 
forts to evoke admiration are not in vain and he is a uni 
versal favorite among the " sisters ". His whole attitude 
is one that would have his word the final law and it would 
be difficult to find his parallel. So important is he that he 
is beyond sin and his self-feeling gives him free and unques 
tioned license to do whatever he wishes. Likewise he ex 
pects special favors from the white man and assumes that 
the assertion that he is a preacher will identify him on all 
occasions. It is indeed a rare spectacle to see a hundred or 
more of these preachers at their conferences and cpnven- 
tions. Dressed in their long coats, and sometimes tall hats, 
they vie with each other to look the biggest man. , Some 
there are who have traveled in " furrein lands " and can 
" speak in seven languages ". They are indeed kings and 
lords. The fact cannot be denied that they are a dis 
tinguished-looking set and their looks are only surpassed by 
their utterances. The same general principle is true of other 
negro leaders, officers of the various churches and societies, 
and the young " educated " negroes, the latter having 
slightly the advantage in the feeling. So with the young 
sters who delight in being the " sports " of the town. Watch 
one of them ! With his " Sunday clothes on ", his hat 
tossed on the back or side of his head, a cigar or cigarette 
in his mouth, language is entirely inadequate for his expres 
sion and he stalks there the perfect image of human nothing 
ness. So, too, the " rounders ", the " eastmans ", and the 



559] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 255 

" creepers " go from place to place, the favorites of the 
women, the envy of the men in general, and the terror of the 
country negro. Swaggering and sweeping all before them, 
such negroes feel a sense of self that is not measured within 
the bounds of wanton recklessness. 

The self-feeling is very much in evidence ip the love of 
dress as such. Both men and women often value fine clothes 
above all else. They sacrifice the actual necessities in the 
effort to " dress up ". The boys model after the latest 
fashions; the women strive to outshine each other in new 
dresses and brilliant colors. Dress and adornment are the 
horizon of their vision on a Sunday. Negroes often 
work and save their earnings for weeks and months to have 
the satisfaction of walking up the aisle in church to con 
tribute five to twenty-five cents, though it takes as many 
trips to the table as there are coins to be put in. Each 
thinks she is the envy of every other one in the congregation. 
Love of dress, love of show, and anything which is con 
ducive to self-centered feelings, anything to give the im 
pression of being above the others, and thus gain attention 
these experiences rank among the first of those which 
give the Negro the highest pleasure and enjoyment. The 
effort to eliminate the kinks of the hair and other racial 
features represent another evidence of the self-feeling and 
skilful advertisers have learned this well enough to make a 
profitable business from the manufacture of various reme 
dies. 

In children, the self-feeling may be seen in two general 
phases. The first is that of proud feeling similar to that 
already mentioned. The same markings are in evidence: 
boasting and bragging, the abuse of smaller children, sex- 
superiority, at home, in school, on the streets, with defiance 
for all ordinary conventions. The small boy can whistle a 
better tune and much louder than the average white man 



256 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [560 

and his path is the path of conquest, his face wreathed in 
the simplicity of impudence. The small negro girl can 
make faces at her playmates and assume attitudes of super 
iority equal to the task of a comic slave. The small boy s 
look of innocence and unconcern while executing or planning 
to execute the most intricate plots of mischief would rival 
a sleeping Mercury. His commanding presence is good. 
His composure and positiveness on most occasions are re 
markable. The second form of self-feeling in negro chil 
dren is that which they feel when first they recognize that 
they are negroes, and are limited to certain bounds. This 
has been discussed in Chapter I. 

The effort to make felt the self-feeling is seen in numer 
ous other ways : the letter-heads and stationery of negro 
leaders, teachers and preachers, with sometimes their photo^- 
graph and titles of a half-dozen offices inscribed thereon, 
the inserting of photographs in all reports where possible. 
Witness a single report from a conference which has no less 
than seven hundred and sixty-eight individual photographs, 
besides others in groups. Their love of committees and 
honors, their eagerness to get into print, and the extrava 
gance of thei r self-commendation and commendation of one 
another is typical. Their list of adjectives is quite extraor 
dinary. The self-feeling is seen in the wounded pride of 
such negroes when asked to do some little menial task, and 
in the insolence of laborers of the sorrier class. It is ex 
pressed in a phrase now common among the negroes : " I m 
jes good as any white woman " and many others. It is 
seen in their love of big words and their efforts to use elo 
quent language on all occasions. 

The outward markings and physical manifestations of 
the positive self-feeling have been indicated: Holding the 
head high, stepping high, throwing back the head and 
shoulders, strutting, or on the other hand, walking in a 



561] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 257 

wanton, reckless swagger, and general bumptiousness; 
gesticulating, being puffed up with conceit, attempt to at 
tract attention bluff in all of its forms. The description 
must be left to the master cartoonist. It would seem that 
some of the negroes actually look bigger after having made 
a journey or having held an " important " position. This 
same spirit and satisfaction in self-feeling is manifested in 
a larger degree in the rituals, regalia and ceremonies of the 
secret societies and in the titles given the leading officers. 
Such is indeed a gay procession and few things are enjoyed 
more than these processions of celebration or funerals. The 
evidence of the positive self-feeling is seen in an almost uni 
versal tendency among the negroes to abuse the weak, ne 
glect the aged, and to form superficial conceptions of all 
social ideals. 

It will thus be seen that examples of the positive self-feel 
ing are to be found almost wholly among the negroes in their 
relations with one another, and that this peculiar sense of 
self is a significant characteristic. The negative self-feeling 
has been most commonly depicted among the negroes. They 
have been known as easily a subject-people, proverbial for 
humility and submission. The Negro is still marked by 
these traits in his relations to the white man. This feeling 
may be seen in his humility and in his mock humility. He is 
easily intimidated and submissive, manifests the spirit of 
weakness and inferiority. Deference and needless giving 
way to the white man, walking on the outside of the street, 
tipping the hat and various acts of deference are typical 
representations. It is also evident in stealth, sneakishness, 
cowardice and the lack of some of the better qualities. These 
well-known facts need only to be mentioned. The degree 
to which they are being overcome will constitute an inter 
esting phase of his development. The saying has been a 
common one, and the belief a general one among certain 



258 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [562 

people that the man never lived who could manage and work 
negroes successfully without the assistance of profanity. 
There is much in the statement, for the negroes are easily 
influenced by overbearing and positive conduct. But the 
negroes submit almost as easily to injustices done them by 
members of their own race who have attained or appear to 
have attained some superiority. The unreasonable demands 
and actions of the preacher are absurd; the negroes look 
upon their so-called learned men with awe and respect. They 
yield readily to demands made by negro property-owners, 
though unreasonable. They are preyed upon by quack- 
doctors and tricksters who assume the part of magicians and 
conjurers. 

Many careful students of the Negro have asserted that 
the only striving which the average negro has is a desire 
for social equality with the whites. Many others have 
maintained that such a desire is not common. Testimony 
from both negroes and white men conflicts. It is not 
possible to make an accurate statement concerning such 
aspirations. Likewise it is difficult to describe the spirit 
ual and philosophical strivings of the Negro. His ideas 
are simple and vague, seeking the place O f least resistance 
and of most pleasure to be expressed. So far as is expressed 
there is little of defmiteness to the Negro s thoughts, but 
more of the loose physiological processes, feelings and re 
actions. There is little of the pure ego or self-consciousness 
in the spiritual sense, so-called. Likewise the Negro s ideas 
of God, of the devil, of heaven, of hell, reveal a general 
attitude of doubt and fear but with little particular ques 
tioning. The Negro sympathizes much with himself as 
being one of a down-trodden people ; there is apathetic mor- 
oseness but little effort for individual striving. The Negro 
loves to talk to himself, to sing to himself and to muse on 
many themes. The dramatic feeling is strong and the sense 



563] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 

of impersonation is developed to a marked degree. Negroes 
impersonate with skill and show a marked descriptive power. 
Impressions are easily made upon the Negro and many are 
permanently retained. The feeling of not being like others 
leads to imitation, where it would otherwise be neglected, 
and this itself is largely a self-feeling more ttyan a desire 
for approval as such. Adaptation as it is commonly found 
among the negroes is the self-feeling in its negative form 
and positive intent. The strivings of the group are chiefly 
for emotional satisfaction and for a recognition by the world 
at large. 

It has generally been assumed that the Negro is differ 
entiated by a distinct sexual development. It is affirmed 
that the sex development crowds out the mental growth. 
It is affirmed that the period of puberty in boys and girls is 
marked by special manifestations of wildness and uncon- 
trol. It is true, too, that the practices of the negroes leave 
little energy for moral and mental regeneration. Their lives 
are filled with that which is most carnal ; their thoughts are 
most filthy and their morals are generally beyond descrip 
tion. Again, physical developments from childhood are 
precocious and the sex life begins at a ridiculously early 
period. But granting these truths it is doubtful if there 
is sufficient evidence to warrant such a conclusion. The 
Negro reveals a strong physical nature; the sex impulse is 
naturally predominant. But its manifestations are probably 
no more violent and powerful than are the expressions of 
other feelings already suggested. The Negro s sensuous 
enjoyment of eating and drinking and sleeping, relatively 
speaking, are no less marked than his sexual propensities. 
Likewise lack of control and extreme manifestations char 
acterize the discharge of other impulses. It is true, again, 
that the part played by sexual life among the negroes is 
large for a people; but to state that the Negro is inherently 



260 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [564 

differentiated and hindered by a sexual development out of 
proportion to other physical qualities is quite a different pro 
position. But whether the question here raised is answered 
in the affirmative or not, it still remains that in the practical 
life of the Negro his better impulses are warped and hin 
dered by his unreasonable abuse of sexual license. And it 
is safe to suggest that the Negro need hope for little develop 
ment of his best qualities until he has learned to- regulate 
and control his animal impulses. 

The continuous expression of various emotions has given 
rise to many morbid feelings among the negroes. Such 
feelings are expressed in both morbid pleasures and pains. 
It is seen in the appetite for various filthy things to> eat, in 
the extreme gratification of impulse and in many kinds of 
perversion. In his anger the Negro often finds great pleas 
ure in laughing, jeering, striking madly about him. Such 
is the common boast over a stricken body, the desire to look 
upon dead bodies, to attend funerals. Again, the bragging, 
handling of knives and pistols, boasting, singing, love of 
criminal notoriety, abuse of the weak, hoodlumism, and ex 
treme feelings of megalomania are touches of the morbid 
pleasure. It is seen again in the expression of sullenness 
and moroseness and the new melancholia which is clearly 
an affective state O f little sudden or positive development 
Morbid pain is less recognized among the negroes ; many ex 
treme manifestations of emotion are pain experiences un 
recognized. The pleasure-pain impulse is everywhere pre 
dominant from the lowest pleasure to the gratification of 
religious sentiment. 

The two general characteristics, then, of the Negro s 
emotional nature are the lack of restraint and the consequent 
extreme expression of the feelings. The Negro s emotions, 
then, are little more than impulses. The tendency is, in all 
manifestations, for the emotion to run its course with little 



565] EMOTIONS OF THE NEGRO 2 6l 

inhibition, thus giving rise to many violent forms of expres 
sion. It thus happens that those feelings which require less 
of the physical stimuli are little developed among the 
negroes. 

The emotional worship of the negroes and their social 
group-feelings have been noted in Chapters II arfd III. Men 
tion has also been made of the Negro s social self-feeling as 
manifested in his love of display, praise and notoriety. All 
of the Negro s emotional states are highly intensified by the 
crowd; the sympathetic like-response is powerful to sway 
the many as one individual. While the Negro is very much 
of a social being his social self has not yet revealed clear and 
distinct qualities of development. His attention to circum 
stances is passive and sensuous; his social self has not de 
veloped the love of home and family nor the desire to accu 
mulate property. Withal, the Negro has two distinct social 
selves, the one he reveals to his own people, the othr he 
assumes among the whites, the assumption itself having be 
come natural. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE NEGRO PROBLEM : AN ESTIMATE OF THE NEGRO 

THE story of the Negro, even since he has come to de 
note the " Negro Problem," has been an intricate and com 
plicated story. His own record, including his privations, 
experiences and achievements, is one of more than ordinary 
adventure, while the records of controversies, legislations 
and discussions concerning the best policies to be adopted 
for his welfare present a remarkable series of inconsistencies. 
The Negro has contributed much to the industry of the 
South at the same time that he has constituted its chief prob 
lem. He has contributed much of its happiness and pros 
perity and much of its poverty and crime. His story has 
been one of happiness and humor and it has been one of 
pathos and sorrows. It has had its comedy and farce and it 
has produced its tragedy. At times exciting and tense, 
involving the passions of both whites and blacks, of the 
North and of the South, and seeming to offer little encour 
agement for a happy ending, his story has yet never lacked 
the quality of hopefulness to those who have seen the deeper 
significance of its setting. However, the Negro s story pre 
sents a problem for modern civilization at once complex, 
compound, and momentous, and leaves it for the present, if 
not unsolved, at least continuous. 

Speculations, theories and methods of solutions for the 

problem have been offered without intermission. It would 

be difficult to find a problem which has been the subject of 

more conflicting opinions, opposite, extremes and incon- 

262 [566 



567] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 263 

sistencies, and for which so many solutions have been of 
fered. Not only have private individuals, editors, authors 
and politicians offered their solutions, but distinguished 
educators, statesmen and judges have contributed. Sin 
cere thinkers biased by prejudice, earnest philanthropists 
lacking in judgment, individuals seeking notorie>y and repu 
tation, politicians and theorists, together with sane, con 
servative thinkers and efficient workers have alike contri 
buted to the ridiculous number of solutions proposed. 
Policies have been outlined, in the adoption of which lay the 
only salvation of the South and the Negro, the rejection of 
which would mean the utter desolation of the land or the 
annihilation of the Negro. Prophecies and conclusions have 
been given with consummate confidence and satisfaction. 
Estimates have been based on " conclusive evidence " where 
no evidence existed. To realize the full extent of unrea 
son involved in the proposed solutions and measures it is 
only necessary to read the history of the discussions in gen 
eral, the discussions of the problems involved in the mi 
gratory movements of the negroes, the discussions con 
cerning negro enfranchisement and disfranchisement, negro 
education and the political and constitutional history of the 
United States from 1840 through the reconstruction period. 
Many of the documents setting forth such measures and 
policies already appear as curious and entertaining data. 
It is true, however, that the Negro has survived them all 
with a good degree of vigor and a hopeful future, and 
that he presents a normal difficult problem of a dynamic con 
dition of economic, political and social development. 

In view of the extended discussions concerning the Negro, 
it may well be doubted if anything new can be said. Not 
only has the Public become so thoroughly tired of any dis 
cussion of the Negro Problem that it no longer cares for 
the sensational stories, but it has ceased to give serious 



264 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [568 

thought to the consideration of the real problem. The dis 
cussions, at least, have become a national joke, and the 
Public responds with characteristic feeling, " It s the same 
old story." But on the other hand, valuable contributions 
have been made to the study of the situation and to the un 
derstanding of conditions. Research into the real condi- 
ditions and possibilities of the negro race are yet limited and 
there is need of a clear understanding of the problem. And 
the careful student may well hope to assist in interpreting 
the problem with results that are both profitable and inter 
esting. It should be remembered that the problem does not 
consist wholly of a single or even of a number of incidents 
to the situation, nor is it a problem of a few generations. 
The solution does not consist in the elimination of present 
unpleasant or objectionable features. It need only be sug 
gested that the adoption of many of the policies proposed 
would have involved more serious difficulties than those 
which were eliminated. Again, it should be remembered 
that the conditions under which the problem is working are 
extremely dynamic and subject to complex forces. In such 
conditions the solution of the problem must begin with the 
most successful working of present conditions with a view to 
future improvements. The solution of the problem thus has 
two chief aspects, an ultimate solution and an immediate one. 
The ultimate solution can be reached only through the 
adoption of effective policies in dealing with actual condi 
tions. Whatever this final solution may be, the present con 
ditions constitute the immediate problem, and a thorough 
knowledge of this problem is the first essential. Such a 
knowledge, with its successful application and direction, 
must be the only solution of the immediate present. 

An effective interpretation of the Negro Problem involves 
not simply a general knowledge of the present condition of 
the Negro. It involves an accurate estimate of the Negro s 



569] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 2 6$ 

capacities and tendencies that go far back of his present 
status and reflect the history of the race. It involves an 
estimate of his inherent qualities that goes far beyond the 
present indication of what his future possibilities may be. And 
such an interpretation includes not only this clear exposition 
of what the Negro is, but also a similar estimate of the 
full environment in which he is to live, with its exacting 
conditions. And it involves a sane and liberal correlation 
of the sum of accurate information that is obtainable with 
practical thinking and with working conditions. The prob 
lem can thus be viewed relatively. It should not be assumed 
that because the present condition of the negroes presents 
a somewhat discouraging outlook, and because the " weak " 
tendencies seem to predominate, that there is need for pes 
simism. If the Negro s standard of home life and living is 
not high, it is also true that similar conditions exist in the 
slums of our cities and in other countries. If his mental 
ability and capacity seem lacking or undeveloped, it should 
be remembered that he has already advanced much beyond 
his racial condition in Africa. At the same time, it should 
be remembered that the Negro differs from the whites not 
only in development, but also in kind. It is a knowledge 
of this " kind " which is the first essential to a satisfactory 
discussion of the problem. If the more negative character 
istics and tendencies are emphasized in the summary of 
negro character which follows, it is in consideration of the 
fact that they constitute the basic criterion of the Negro s 
exact condition, and that in their correction and proper 
adjustment lies the hopeful outlook for the race./ It may 
be suggested that these most important traits are the ones 
which indicate the inherent possibilities of the Negro and 
that they are precisely those that are capable of being built 
upon. Furthermore, they are the normal outgrowth of the 
forces and processes that have been operating to effect the 
development of the Negro. 



2 66 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [570 

The results of careful research into the conditions of the 
negro race in the South show that the condition under 
which the negroes live are not conducive to good conduct, 
to the growth of strong character or to the development of 
a h.ealthy social organism. The negroes live in crowded 
quarters and inferior houses. There is little home life 
among them. They move from place to place and form 
little home attachment. Families are much broken up and 
there is indiscriminate mixing in the home. Filth and un 
sanitary conditions prevail. Irregular habits of life, un 
certain incomes and irregular food-supplies are common to 
the great mass of negroes. Disease and bad health are 
prevalent to an alarming extent Vice and immorality, ex 
cesses and lack of restraint intensify the general conditions, 
and take much of the Negroe s energies. He is thus in 
capacitated for a full degree of efficiency in the struggle for 
life. As a laborer the Negro is becoming unsatisfactory 
with the tendency increasing under present conditions. He 
receives higher wages but does less efficient work. The 
negro woman constitutes a serious feature of the situation. 
She fails to assist the men in a better struggle, she is in 
efficient and indisposed to be faithful. She is a hindrance 
to the successful saving of money and the industrial develop 
ment of the family. The Negro is not increasing his 
economic prosperity nor his moral stability. He is more 
of an offender than he is a criminal. His weaknesses pre 
dominate over his aggressive tendencies. At the same time 
his offences are on the increase and are out of proportion 
to his numerical relation to the population. Chiefly, his 
crime is due to the expression of animal impulses and a 
lack of restraint. The majority of crimes are committed 
by younger negroes, and reformatory measures seem to 
have little corrective influence. The criminal tendency to 
gether with the various forms of vagrancy and bumptious- 



57 1 ] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 267 

ness constitute a menacing situation to both races. The fear 
of the law offers the most effective check to the bad pro 
pensities of the Negro. His religion, while associating in 
thought much of the moral and ethical element, has little 
practical bearing upon conduct. Education, as it has been 
conducted, has not made the Negro strong. 

The Negro is very much of a social being. His gre 
garious habits satisfy his social wants. He is constantly 
engaged in mingling with his fellows at large, and is less 
often at home with his family. He is ingenuous in im 
provising methods of entertainment and enjoys his social 
feelings. The Church, the Lodge and various other as 
sociations supplement his private functions in offering ample 
opportunity for the outlet of his social energy. The qual 
ity of his entertainment is not of a high order and in 
creases the conditions for irregular morals. Church ser 
vices offer much of the better entertainment for the Negro 
and occupy much of his time and energy. About equal 
with the Church, the Lodge furnishes social enjoyment and 
contributes to race pride. The fraternal organizations have 
become an institution, sometimes rated above the home, the 
church and school. They offer avenues for the discussion 
and control of racial interests and for benefits and insurance 
to its members. They encourage the social features of 
burial and funeral ceremonies. They have had a pheno 
menal growth and do a large amount of business among the 
negroes, thus filling an important want. The Negro shows 
power for organization and for obtaining money from his 
people. A remarkable enthusiasm and pride are manifested 
in such societies and their undertakings. They further 
encourage the founding of industries, organizations and 
schools, where there is opportunity for immediate growth. 
In their schools the negroes have done little; they have re 
ceived little encouragement from the whites. The facilities 



268 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [572 

and conditions under which they operate are not favorable. 
Both whites and blacks show indifference. Their teachers 
are for the most part inefficient and irresponsible and the 
irregular attendance and application to work prevent per 
manent results. On the whole the conditions of the South 
ern Negro are far from satisfactory. Physically, mentally, 
morally and socially, he has serious charges to meet. It is 
possible to interpret the present conditions as indicating 
deterioration, if continued at the present rate, under the 
lack of restraint on the one hand and lack of constructive 
living on the other. 

The conditions of negro life as thus briefly outlined re 
flect the more general attitudes and tendencies from which 
they grow. There is in the Negro little home conscious 
ness, more of the general social consciousness. This has 
its effect upon the general standard of morals and ideals, 
while at the same time his low state of social consciousness 
and control does not lead him to develop a love of home and 
family. The Negro often shows much hospitality of a 
sort to strangers, more rarely lasting friendship and affec 
tion. Freedom from restraint and parental control are 
much desired by the younger negroes. There is little par 
ental and filial affection, and little abiding solicitude for the 
welfare of members of the family. There is little respect 
and care for the aged and infirm. There are few high 
ideals of woman, wife and mother, and little thought of in 
dividual chastity and of the purity of the home. The 
Negro entertains no definite ideas of health and hygiene, 
nor of an individual responsibility for his own conduct. 
He looks upon labor as an evil necessity and is developing 
a professional ethics of vagrancy. He exercises little fore 
thought and believes in an ideal condition of future material 
welfare much in the same way that he sings 



573] 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM 

When I git to Heaven, gwin er ease, ease, 
Me an my God gwin er do as we please. 



He shows little desire to acquire property, and his society 
satisfies his physical cravings more than it produces in 
dustry. The negroes love notoriety and distinction; those 
who do not admire their leaders and notorious Characters 
wonder at their powers. Crime is not a cause for social 
ostracism or condemnation. /Social prejudices and caste 
ideas are entertained by the negroes of the higher class. 
Jealousies and conflicts mar the harmony of social organi 
zations and prevent effective work. Successful display and 
quantitative results are the marks of success. Education 
is valued in proportion as it makes the individual important 
in the eyes of his people and as it relieves him from physical 
labor. /Religion is a panacea for all sins and an emotional 
belief in a future happiness to be obtained without sacrifice. 
Much stress is placed upon the importance of the life after 
death and much emphasis given to burial and funeral rites. 
In fine, the Negro has little social pressure, concentrated 
beliefs or definite conventions that control conduct in his 
own society, which demand the development of homes, the 
acquirement of property, the equipment for life, the faith 
ful performance of duty or individual achievement. In 
stead he quickly responds to whatever circumstances offer 
the most pleasure and the least resistance. On the other 
hand, it is hopeful to compare the possibilities that lie in 
the simple fidelity of a simple home and family of an in 
dustrious negro, with its patient, persistent, faithful per 
formance of obligations and the simple thoughts of an 
imaginative and emotional religion which becomes a true 
reality of life. 

These general attitudes and social tendencies again indi 
cate the more specific traits, the psychological processes and 



270 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [574 

sociological tendencies of the Negro. Sensuous feelings 
and simple emotions reflect the predominance of the physical 
impulses and pleasure-pain feelings. Feeling gives rare 
reality to the Negro, and that which does not have such 
reality appeals little to his conscious or unconscious states. 
The Negro is strong in the expression of the primitive emo 
tions. Fear is expressed for the most part as a feeling 
apart from the individual experience and involving more of 
the imagination. The Negro is easily aroused to a feeling 
of fear and this, intensified, completely incapacitates him for 
usefulness. He shows inability to sustain his control or 
convictions and is thus lacking in courage. The feeling 
of fear is most manifest in the fear of officers, of the law, 
of strangers, of the unexpected, superstitious fears of the 
supernatural, morbid fears of death and the dead, and in a 
general child-like fear of certain animals and things. Over 
against this feeling of fear the Negro often manifests a 
remarkable degree of daring and recklessness, seemingly out 
of the pure pleasure it gives him in the self-feeling. Anger 
appears as a passion easily excited, running riot, uncon 
trollable, insatiable, expressing itself in a blind instinct to 
destroy, but is quickly forgotten. Such animal passion 
momentarily excited takes various forms : maddened jeal 
ousy, wanton recklessness, morbid pleasure in the gratifica 
tion of the feeling of superiority, and the pouring-out of 
animal impulse. It sometimes approaches the state of de 
mentia in women. It is further manifest in the vile de 
nunciation of those who are considered enemies. The 
Negro is easily angered by sudden physical stimuli, by 
jealousies, by those considered inferior to himself, and by 
members of his own race. Fear and deference often pre 
vent anger in the case of superiors. The Negro does not 
cherish his anger for long periods of time nor is the feeling 
of revenge lasting. The positive self-feeling is prominent 



575] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 2 ?I 

in the Negro s feeling of importance, pride, dignity, wanton 
ness, bumptiousness, license and in his feelings of injured 
dignity in relation to -white children. The first person is 
magnified in all thoughts and actions. The positive self- 
feeling is manifest for the most part among members of 
his own race. The negative self-feeling, as seep in humil 
ity, self-pity, lack of assertiveness, subjection to others, 
while most commonly shown toward the whites, is equally 
characteristic in the relation to negro leaders and advent 
urers. Sympathy is most characteristic in the simple phy 
siological response to circumstances and suggestions of the 
moment, and is freely expressed where no stronger emotion 
conflicts. This feeling may take the form of simple un 
conscious rhythmical expressions of feeling, response to 
the crowd, imitation, or it may be sympathy of fear or ex 
citement. Sympathy is strong in the appeal for pity in 
the child-like wail of the wanderer, in a self appeal which 
enables him to arouse pity and obtain favors. Such a self- 
sympathy and its objective response is the source of pleas 
urable feeling. The Negro manifests sympathy for the 
whites in momentary circumstances. While the Negro ex 
presses a quick sympathetic feeling toward the circumstances 
of the moment, he is seemingly capable of little lasting 
sympathy, affection or gratitude, less so than formerly. 
Hence he often appears to be void of fellow-feeling, harsh 
and unrelenting in his judgment, unsympathetic, when the 
positive self-feeling is uppermost in his consciousness. The 
Negro shows feelings of sorrow and grief to which, by habit 
and custom, he gives much form and expression, but he as 
easily puts them aside and outgrows them. Love for the 
most part is physical. The social emotions are little de 
veloped into strong forces, although the majority of the 
Negro s emotions are expressed in the group aspect. In 
abstractions of thought and moral maxims, in the satisfac- 



272 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [576 

tion of the feeling of oughtness and self-approbation, the 
social feelings are reflected with some defmiteness. They are 
further seen in the love of ritual, regalia, music, love of 
concerted expression, love of the wonderful, and of satis 
factory forms of organizations. Friendship, loyalty and 
recognition of worth are little apparent. The parental and 
filial emotions are expressions of interest and dependence. 
But in all cases of the expression of emotions, the Negro is 
especially sensitive to alternations and opposites. Exalta 
tion and depression, gaiety and gloom, boastfulness and 
timidity, excitement and agitation, pleasure and pain all 
these reflect the qualities and flexibilities of the Negro s emo 
tions. The Negro may often repress his emotions, so that 
expectation, fear or disappointment may not be detected in 
his appearance. These susceptibilities to influences and the 
conceptions of the higher emotions in abstract ideals which 
are common among the negroes reveal latent possibilities, 
so that the emotions of the Negro may be his strongest as 
well as his weakest point. 

By means of the careful analysis of these traits and ten 
dencies, it is possible to summarize them into a reasonably 
accurate estimate of negro character-tendencies and the 
potentials of the race. From the more sociological ten 
dencies, in addition to those already indicated, and in dif 
ferent representations, the summary shows : The Negro is 
expressive * in his abuse of others, hilarity, lying, exagger- 
tion, indecent language, expression of feeling in rhythmic 
motion, love of music, love of display, devotion to worship 
and social activities, in his general emotionalism, and in his 
inactivity and superficiality. His appropriativeness is seen 

1 The terms expressive, gregarious etc. as used in this paragraph 
were suggested by Dr. Thomas P. Bailey in an analysis of negro 
character as found in some of the Negro s folk-songs. 



THE NEGRO PROBLEM 



273 



in his love of money, covetousness, theft scheming, his imi 
tation and adaptability and in his desultory work. He is 
gregarious in his sexual morality, sociality, conformity to 
law and the group, imitation and originality, his simple hon 
esty and in his spontaneous expressiveness. Gregarious- 
ness and appropriativeness combined give vagrancy, wan 
dering, sense of dependence, lack of restraint, provincialism, 
childishness and lack of moral earnestness. The Negro is 
assertive in the expression of the positive self-feeling, in 
agitation, and in competition with whites and blacks. The 
Negro is responsive to forceful circumstances and to the 
emotions. This is further seen in his imitation and interest 
He is unresponsive in his lack of reverence for old age, lack 
of affection and friendship. From the psychological pro 
cesses, the emotions predominate as already indicated. In 
the intellect, there is much imitation and adaptation, fatal 
ism, set-mindedness, in which all the senses are turned to 
ward the perception of one attitude, which is often mis 
guided imagination or hypnotism by an idea, little open to 
reason; the Negro shows concretism, a vivid imagination, 
humor, lack of will-power in inertia and unsustained con 
trol, elasticity of spirit, love of euphonious words, incon 
sequential and incoherent thought, little reasoning power, 
love of the morbid and curious, but with little perceptiveness 
and observational power. Association plays an important 
part through suggestion but the association systems are 
meagre and there is little sustained and constructive 
thinking. 

The Negro thus shows a remarkable combination of both 
negative and positive traits of mental, moral and social 
development. He is neither an aberrant form of other 
races nor a hopelessly arrested type of any race. There is 
unity and consistency everywhere between the forces and 
processes that have been working and are still working, and 



274 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [578 

his present status. A spontaneous, shifting, erratic, ramb 
ling, incoherent nature seeking freedom from restraint, 
gratification of impulse, and the experience of sustained 
languor finds natural satisfaction. Its superficiality enjoys 
the show of apparent results without caring for the details 
of achievement. It avoids details and difficult tasks and 
recognizes no causal relation between stability and pros 
perity. The Negro s is an easy-going indolence seeking 
freedom to indulge itself and seeking to avoid all circum 
stances which would tend to coerce or restrain its freedom. 
Such character-attitude and temperament, with an inherit 
ance of mental stupidity and moral insensibility, find their 
expression through a being capable of physical endurance, 
but improvident, extravagant, lazy rather than industrious, 
faithful and unfaithful in the performance of duties, easily 
adaptable, imitative, lacking initiative, dishonest and 
untruthful, with little principle of honor or conception of 
right and virtue, superstitious, over-religious, suspicious and 
incapable of a comprehension of faith in mankind. 

Again, it is possible to state a compact summary of the 
Negro s chief characteristics in still other terms, with a 
view to ascertaining the proper forces which might be 
brought to bear upon the adjustment, co-ordination and 
development of the more primal traits and the stronger 
qualities. By these characteristics is meant a degree of 
tendency bordering on the extreme or approximating the 
complete qualities described, allowing always for the quali- 
cations and overlappings. First, the Negro easily responds 
to stimuli, that is, he is controlled by present impulses. 
This results in almost complete lack of restraint, including 
both the yielding to impulses and inertia. Second, this 
free response tends always to pleasure, sometimes the pleas 
ure being more or less unconscious in the simple giving 
way to impulse and the breaking-down of restraint or in 



579] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 

the negative feeling of non-exertion. The Negro is there 
fore inactive. Third, the Negro tends to carry all responses 
to an extreme. He loves plenty of varied stimuli. This 
exhausts and degenerates his vital powers. Fourth, 
the Negro has little capacity for sustained control. This 
applies to sustained efforts, conduct in genera^ morality, 
convictions and thought. He is, therefore, weak in social- 
and self-control and lacking in self-direction. Fifth, he 
does not, therefore, lend himself to the development of 
deep and permanent qualities through the working out of 
essential processes. Sixth, he is therefore superficial and 
irresponsible. 

It is very necessary, however, to view such general ten 
dencies of inactivity and superficiality with careful discrim 
ination, and to be cautious in interpreting them as " nega 
tive " tendencies. It will be observed that the positive 
qualities are very much in evidence but are little expressed 
because there is little pressure on them. The Negro shows 
great plasticity and much promise. His rich variety of 
life and the flexibility of his nature, his sympathetic adapta 
bility and the plasticity of his consciousness may well be 
the basis for permanent ability. His love of a good time, 
hilariousness and boisterous nature, and the feeling for a 
free rhythmical expression in an unrestrained outburst of 
impulses should be directed into channels of positive growth. 
Furthermore, the feelings, emotions, the flowing conscious 
ness of the Negro, his mental imagery of unusual vividness 
and his powerful visualization reveal a wonderful spon 
taneity. Much of this is expressed at present in his artistic 
feelings, his gorgeous portrayals, varied versatility, his 
abrupt descent from the sublime to the ridiculous, the blend 
ing of the homely with the awful, an enjoyment of crude 
humor, quick response in repartee, richness of folk-songs 
and thought, concreteness, vividness, clearness and direct- 



276 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [580 

ness in expression and action. Negro children show a 
marked degree of brightness and a reasonable measure of 
ability. Interest and enjoyment may grow into application 
and achievement. And it would be difficult to find a more 
picturesque life than that of the simple industrious negro, 
with his honest idealism and simple honesty, and his naive 
faith and optimism in the policies of life. There is ample 
evidence that it is possible for this to grow into a broader 
concepton life, a consistent, steady growth in character 
and a substantial economic ability. 

But such attainments may not be reached through sudden 
growth. Efficient forces must direct the processes and as 
sist the Negro in adapting himself to his environment. The 
Negro must recognize his own condition and what it will 
require to better it. The conditions of the environment 
itself must be thoroughly known, and so far as possible they 
must be brought to his assistance. The problem then con 
sists essentially of two parts, the developing of the Negro s 
ability, and the advantageous adjustment to the civilization 
in which he is to achieve his place. Suggestions concerning 
the possibilities and methods of assisting the Negro are made 
elswhere. 1 It is not only essential to know the condition of 
the Negro but it is also necessary to understand these con 
ditions in their relation to the environment which surrounds 
tke Negro and with which he will have to compete. The 
problem of this environment is the problem of the relation 
between the whites and blacks. This race-relation consists 
of two essentially important aspects, the economic and in 
dustrial relations, and the general political and social rela 
tions which must exist in various forms and problems be 
tween the white man and the Negro. Of these two general 
aspects, the more important is that involved in the industrial 
and economic factors which will be brought to bear upon 

1 Chapter. I. 



58 1 ] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 277 

the Negro in the future. The most important feature of 
this aspect, again, is the part which the Negro himself must 
play in fixing his status and in preparing for competition 
and progress. 

And nowhere is it more important to have a thorough 
knowledge of the Negro s complete character /than in tho 
consideration of his present economic condition and his 
future possibilities. In no field of the Negro s endeavor is 
the causal relationship between his traits and tendencies and 
his present condition more clearly seen. In the sense of 
remedying these conditions by beginning at their source, the 
economic problem is the only problem facing the Negro. 
In the solving of this difficulty will be the solution of the 
entire problem for the whites and blacks so far as a pro 
gressive, dynamic problem can be solved. But there is 
clearly a distinct problem to be solved in thus bettering the 
condition of the Negro and in the economic development of 
the South. It is not asking too much of the whites to help 
the Negro toward the ideal which should apply to all la 
borers, namely, to do that which he is best fitted to do with 
the most satisfaction to himself and others, and with good 
pay. It is not expecting too much of the Negro to demand 
that he prepare himself to do his work well, and that he 
hold an exalted idea of labor and find wholesome satisfac 
tion in an industrious life. For the immediate emphasis 
must be placed upon the industrial condition of the Negro 
as a laborer and his relation to the whites in this capacity, 
rather than his general economic condition in acquiring 
property. Through efficiency and successful adjustment 
in the former relation he will come to a substantial degree 
of economic prosperity in the latter. Two aspects of the 
situation which are interrelated throughout their develop 
ment, present themselves for immediate consideration. 
First, the question of the efficiency of negro laborers their 



278 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [582 

attitude toward labor, and the proportion of those working 
to those idle, and second, the opportunities for negro labor 
and the relations between white and colored laborers. For 
the results of idleness and indisposition of the negroes to 
work with the accompanying insolence, on the one hand, and 
the competition with whites in future condition, on the other, 
will cause more race conflicts than all other questions of 
social and political relations. 

In the labor problem of the South there is undoubtedly a 
problem facing both races which did not exist even a few 
years ago. The chief service of an inquiry like this is to 
give the exact representations of conditions and to interpret 
the problem. In the first place, it should be remembered 
that the Negro is a general laborer working for and under 
the supervision of the whites, including agricultural la 
borers and women workers. There is a small percent of 
skilled laborers and still another small proportion working 
independently for themselves or for other negroes. Again, 
the mass of negro laborers are not united in working in in 
dustries, but for the most part each laborer works separately 
as a general laborer. In this general capacity, the Negro 
plays an important part in the industrial development of 
the South, in assisting to produce comforts and to satisfy 
the wants of the whites, and in this way he maintains his 
own standard of living. The Negro labor in the South is 
solely an unorganized and unintegrated body of negroes 
capable of doing a certain amount of work. There is ample 
work for all at reasonable wages. Within the last two de 
cades the price of labor has almost doubled. There is a 
strong demand at this rate and no negro need be unem 
ployed. In fact, the South is beginning to be handicapped 
by a lack of labor and for the want of efficient laborers. 
And still a great number of negroes remain idle much of 
their time, working only when compelled to do so by law or 



583] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 279 

necessity. There is an increasing number of negroes who. 
are unwilling to do manual labor of an unpleasant sort, and 
an increasing number who are unwilling to remain employed 
steadily. The influence of such negroes in the community 
is more exasperating that can be indicated without seeming 
exaggeration. They are equally injurious to ^ie Negro in 
the race conflicts which they cause, the example which they 
set, in the vice and crime of which they are guilty, in the 
permanent lowering of the average of race-ability, and in 
the drainage which they entail for their support. Not only 
is this class not humiliated by such conditions, but such 
individuals consider their policies a point of pride and cause 
for congratulation. They can live without work, have a 
good time, and in their self-satisfaction know that they rep 
resent an ideal among many of the younger negroes. Such 
negroes often insolently refuse to work under any conditions 
and persuade others to adopt the same policies. They are 
thus failing to prepare themselves for any of the gainful 
occupations, and in this way they are increasing the difficul 
ties for the future development of the race. 

Not only is colored labor not improving in the quality 
or in the quantity available for practical employment, but 
it is doubtful if a single locality can be found in the South 
in which negro labor is not growing more unsatisfactory. 
The general grounds for complaint other than those already 
indicated, are chiefly the unreliability of the Negro. The 
employer never knows when he will be able to employ ; when 
he has succeeded in employing, he has no assurance that the 
laborers will report for work, or that they will report con 
tinuously. The Negro can not be depended upon, and 
there is no way to bring pressure to bear upon him as in, 
former days. The negroes themselves bring little pressure 
to force industry upon individuals. Again, the quality of 
the labor itself is often unreliable unless minutely directed. 



2 go SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [584 

This is due both to carelessness and irresponsibleness of the 
Negro and to his lack of intelligence and training. The 
average negro will not remain in one position for a long 
period of time. He must have his change, whether to work 
at something else, to loaf, or to visit another locality. He 
usually returns sooner or later where he is again employed 
with some satisfaction ; for a time he is again a good worker. 
The whites employ the negro laborer in general, not on the 
basis of his ability or record, but on the probability of 
getting the work done. Only a few years ago it was very 
common for families to employ laborers who had remained 
with them for years, working regularly and faithfully year 
after year to their mutual satisfaction and prosperity ; now it 
seems rarely possible to retain the same negro more than a 
season or a year. These particulars indicate the new pro 
portions which the situation is assuming in its effect upon 
the Negro and in the special problems that make up labor 
conditions. The difficulty of maintaining satisfactory do 
mestic service intensifies the " servant problem." The 
younger negroes are not prepared to do good work and care 
less for it ; they are thus preparing to be forced out of their 
present place by white workers. Farm labor and general 
work that requires steady employment is beginning to suffer. 
Skilled labor is not increasing in quantity or efficiency. 
The causal relation between the negro morals and irregu 
larities is more apparent in his work. The growing race 
feeling may well be expected to prevent the negro laborer 
from having equal competition with the whites unless his 
work be thoroughly efficient. He will not be allowed in the 
labor unions; it is thus incumbent upon him to be able to 
direct himself. His presence will be unwelcome, if con 
stantly unemployed, because he can always be had for a 
reduced wage, thus breaking into the plans of the unions. 
These are some of the conditions which the Negro must 



585] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 2 Sl 

willingly face and to which he must adjust himself and 
wake up. 

On the other hand, the South prefers negro labor in gen 
eral. In all domestic service, hotels, elevators and mis 
cellaneous work the Negro is much preferred. Many em 
ployers in special industries also prefer negrp laborers. 
There will be ample opportunity for the regular employment 
of the Negro if his labor is satisfactory. The rapid de 
velopment of the South will demand a larger supply of 
labor than is now available. At present the negroes find 
the most satisfactory work in the municipal improvements 
of towns and cities, the construction of new industries, and 
in the work of railroads and mines. Such employment will 
continue to attract a large number of negroes. The labor 
of the farm should recall the industrious, earnest negro 
worker, while the small industries and promiscuous work 
offer a broad field. Wages are practically the same as for the 
whites in this general labor, and the negroes are less often 
abused and cheated of their time, than formerly. The 
Southern employer recognizes with some pride efficient, 
earnest, educated negro laborers, and he is not slow to re 
ward them. The Negro is undoubtedly capable of very 
efficient work, both skilled and unskilled. He has much 
aptitude and endurance for special work. He has in 
genuity and ability in some forms of inventive and mechani 
cal labor, if he would prepare himself and apply his best 
energies continuously to his work. At present it must be 
admitted that the average negro laborer wishes to do the 
higher class of work without being willing to prepare for 
it; he has little ambition to rise through progressive effi 
ciency. It is this lack of equipment and ambition rather 
than competition with the whites which is causing skilled 
labor to decrease in many places. In all features alike, the 
Negro is suffering from his weakness and the white man is 



282 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [586 

not willing to save him from it. Competition in the South 
will not long remain so easy as it has been ; the Negro may 
count on assistance from the whites provided he shows his 
ability to properly use it. Otherwise his condition will con 
tinue more unfavorable. In the reaction which followed the 
recent strike of firemen on the Georgia Railroad it was clear 
that there is a growing sentiment against negro labor in 
comparison with whites, where the issue is one of race. 
In the same reaction there was also manifest a strong feel 
ing of justice and f airplay for the Negro. The efficient, 
earnest, industrious negro may count on opportunity and 
encouragement in the South. And the hope may reason 
ably be expressed that the South, needing and favoring 
negro labor, and seeing that idleness increases crime and in 
efficiency will come to take a broader view of the entire 
situation, so that steps will be taken to assist the Negro and 
insist that he shall be employed and that in this policy no 
field of work will be closed to the Negro. In this study of 
the negro laborer and in the adjustment of labor conditions 
through which the South must achieve its industrial de 
velopment, there is a broad field for practical results in the 
application by Southern economists of sound interpretation 
and theories. The negro labor problem lacks many of the 
features common to the general labor conditions ; it involves 
additional problems. 

The wealth of a people must depend partly on their earn 
ing capacity, partly upon their economy, and partly upon 
their opportunities and resources. The Negro as a laborer 
has contributed much to the economic welfare of the coun 
try; he has contributed little to his own wealth. He there 
fore contributes to the state little in the way of property. 
On the one hand it is complained by the whites that the 
Negro contributes little to the wealth of the country. On 
the other hand it is maintained by the Negro that he does 



587] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 283 

not cost the Nation a cent. The standards of criticism are 
entirely different. Again, the Negro speaks with pride of 
the homes, banks, churches and industries which are owned 
or controlled by negroes and enlarges upon the inaccurate 
estimates of the amount of property upon which the negroes 
pay taxes, while the whites assert that, whereas the negroes 
constitute some forty percent of the population they own only 
from three to five percent of the property. Such a record 
is neither unusual nor surprising, but the natural results 
which might have been expected under the conditions ob 
taining. It is not especially creditable, nor is it a dis 
creditable record for a people of the Negro s qualities and 
experience. Comparison with the whites is a severe test. 
But the Negro has reached the stage when it is necessary 
for him to prepare himself for successful competition, to 
prove his ability to contribute to the wealth of the country, 
and to explain why his property is increasing at a relatively 
diminishing ratio. This explanation will be found in the 
traits and tendencies which have controlled his conduct 
rather than in the environment and the opportunities which 
have been at his disposal. For he has had ample opportun 
ity to buy homes and land and to accumulate property with 
out hindrance. If the Negro would apply himself faithfully 
to his work with the rate of wages which he receives, and 
use a reasonable amount of judgment and economy in the 
expenditure of his money, he could raise his standard of 
living and at the same time save a substantial part of his 
earnings. As it is the Negro spends his money as fast as 
he can obtain it somewhat in the importance attached to its 
value for church and lodge dues, for entertainments and so 
cial life under the auspices of these institutions, for cloth 
ing, for novelties and unnecessaries, for house rent and food. 
Much is paid for fines and a considerable amount is sacri 
ficed in the necessity of having to seek credit for supplies. 



284 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [588 

The resulting conditions are not unlike those in other depart 
ments of his life. Ignorance, negligence, shiftlessness, vice 
and weakness lead to poverty as they do to unstable race- 
conditions. It is thus impossible for the Negro to accumu 
late- property even if he desired to do so and if there was 
sentiment putting a premium on thrift and economy; it 
would not be possible for him to retain property if it were 
given him, under these conditions. 

On the other hand, the Negro often proves himself 
capable of industry and thrift for a short period of time 
when he must have a certain amount of money. Many in 
dividuals have succeeded in saving year after year a part o 
their income and investing it in sensible ways. There are 
many negroes whose records show marked thrift and suc- 
. cessful management. In every community the wealth owned 
by the negroes has been accumulated by a very small num 
ber of individuals who represent the more successful 
economic element. Again, the Negro shows capacity for 
organization in his fraternal organizations and benefit as 
sociations, his business leagues, and various co-operative 
projects. He shows a remarkable ability for advertising, 
for raising money through the medium of church and lodge. 
The negroes control quite a number of banks, stores, news 
papers and other establishments. In these and in supplying 
provisions for members of their own race there is much 
economic activity and success. The Negro plans many co 
operative methods of establishing successful business con 
cerns, but they usually hinder rather than promote individ 
ual prosperity and look to an ideal prosperity. In his en 
thusiasm the Negro is a bad manager. Says one, " the 
Negro Business League is the greatest meeting along in 
dustrial lines that has ever been organized among any 
people," and he speaks of a state organization only. In an 
appeal for subscriptions to a savings institution for negroes 



589] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 285 

the promoter says among other things, " . . . it behooves 
us, the sable sons of Ham, to fall in and keep step to the 
drum tap of commercialism and march onward and upward 
the foot-worn pedestal of success until we shall have thrown 
wide the doors to the vaults of the Southern Banking and 
Loan Company in which will be heaped the treasures of the 
nations." The total capital was to be fifteen thousand dol 
lars, with shares at fifty dollars apiece, to be paid in install 
ments of one dollar a week for fifty weeks. Such plans 
have been numerous indeed, and much might be done were 
it not all lost in the end in bad management or lack of 
completion. Here again the negroes contribute something 
to the prosperity of the whites and of a few negroes, but 
little to their own welfare. The problem is not so much 
that of wealth to the nation as it is one of helping the Negro 
to place himself on a stable basis. He must begin the 
economy of self-help and individual acquirement; he must 
learn discretion and judgment in the placing of his small 
contributions. Until he has learned more of this lesson it 
will be difficult for him to withstand a severe competition 
and not until then will he begin to add to the wealth of the 
State. He can best begin by adopting a policy of faithful, 
consistent, industrious application to his work. 

While the Negro has the power of making his future 
prosperity in the South, it is also largely in the hands of the 
whites, in that he can only achieve results through the help 
and co-operation of the whites. Wherever negroes have 
succeeded in small industries and as industrious laborers, 
they have always had their individual or group of white 
friends supporting their efforts. This is an essential part 
of their environment. What the future attitude of the 
whites will be toward the Negro will depend largely on the 
Negro s ability to prove his worth and his assistance to the 
whites. Economic conditions will control the situation. So 



2 86 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [590 

far as the present situation is concerned, this is the only 
important problem in the Negro s environment. The ques 
tions of social and political equality do not constitute a prob 
lem in the sense in which the industrial and economic situ 
ation does. The Negro may count upon his relation to the 
whites as it has been indicated in the discussion of the fore 
going problems. He will achieve his place entirely as a 
separate race. An implicit understanding of this will facili 
tate his progress. Little need be said concerning social and 
political equality. There is no absolute race equality in any 
sense of the word. The races have different abilities and 
potentialities. Those who would assist the Negro should 
remember this and not exact too much otf him, either in 
demanding his results or in offering him the completed 
ideals of the whites. Race prejudice will continue with an 
increasing intensity but the races will come to a more com 
plete understanding. When the Negro has proved himself, 
the world will make way for him. So long as he is in 
capable of intelligently using the ballot or in assisting in 
the direction of, and in the understanding of public policies, 
he will be denied the ballot. But a broader view of the 
situation will be gained by both races and as the negroes be 
come qualified they will be given the opportunity to co-oper 
ate in the political working of the South. The Negro must 
have legal justice and fair play, and this will be received 
more readily when the two races come to a definite under 
standing of what their relations are to be. In the character 
istic feeling of the Southern whites all forms of equality 
suggest social equality, which is utterly inconceivable to 
their practical thinking. 

While the question of social equality does not constitute 
a problem in the South, it does appear to other peoples and 
to the Negro as a possibility or a probability. The question 
is still agitated to some extent and it may be remembered 



59 1 ] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 287 

that there have been those who advocated the superiority of 
the Negro to the Southern whites. This conception of 
equality, with the consequent result upon the Negro, has 
done more to co-operate with his undeveloped nature in 
hindering his progress than any other single thing. It has 
been a great injustice to the Negro as well as to the whites. 
There is not a single argument in its favor ; the intermixing 
of the races has been judged to work detriment to both, so 
far as scientific observations have been possible. As a mat 
ter of fact, however, the question of social equality is not 
based on pure reason. Feeling is much more powerful than 
the intellect in such a situation. It may be possible to ex 
plain the abstract situation, but a thorough comprehension 
is not possible without an immediate experience of the in 
herent feeling-attitude which underlies it. One may per 
suade the intellect but not the feeling. Race-prejudice re 
veals the fact that the whites, while admitting the abstract 
righteousness of the various forms of equality economic, 
political, religious, legal admitting that character is not to 
be judged by such external accidents as color, in practice and 
feeling they refuse to grant to the Negro an actual right to 
equality of treatment based on character. This has its basis 
in the feeling that the Negro has not the character quali 
ties which warrant such a treatment. But it further has its 
explanation in the fact that the right of equality carries with 
it a check in that the whites implicitly feel that all forms 
of equality at bottom are based on at least the possibility 
of social communion, 1 and that social communion holds out 

1 The explanation involved in the idea of " social communion " is 
that of Dr. Thomas P. Bailey. A further discussion of the general 
relations between the races will be found in his address before the 
Department of Superintendence of the National Education Association 
held at Indianapolis in March of this year. This valuable discussion 
I am permitted to give in the appendix. 



2 88 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [592 

the possibility of intermarriage, which is an impossible 
admission. Therefore, all forms of equality are withheld 
from the Negro in proportion as they tend to connect 
themselves with " social equality." Individual negroes how 
ever, excellent they might be in character, are never 
theless members of a race that cannot share the com 
munal life of the whites, and however much they may be 
respected for their ability and character, they are still " out 
side the kin." The feeling against any forms of social 
equality are thus established as strong " mores " which it 
is impossible to overcome in any short period of time. It is 
stronger than religion and government. He that violates it 
is without religion and state. In the keeping of it is the 
highest culture, education, religion and conduct; it under 
lies purity, virtue, traditions, ideals and is also intensified 
in the social emotions and conduct. So long as the attitude 
is thus, it is needless to inquire into the advisability of the 
mixing of the races ; such a feeling grows stronger with the 
developing situation. It is expedient to turn to the problem 
of immediate improvement of conditions as they now are, 
thus preparing the way for successful adjustment. 

From this inquiry into the character tendencies of the 
Negro, his related environment and the special correspond 
ence involved in the relations between whites and blacks, it 
is clear that the amelioration of the Negro s condition must 
come through a continued growth. Strength of moral char 
acter and mental stability with economic prosperity never 
yet came to a people by leaps and bounds. Such a growth 
can only be effected through the coming generations, by 
means of a training which will give a permanent character- 
basis upon which to build and a capacity to retain; this 
must be a persistent, continuous process, with efficient 
forces to direct. A proposed plan of beginning the Negro s 
education with the view to establishing the qualities of 



593] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 289 

stick-to-it-iveness and development within the race has been 
outlined in Chapter I. But in the meantime, and in order 
to make way for such plans and to avert further deteriorat 
ing influences, there are certain self-evident duties for both 
whites and blacks. While only commonplaces in their state 
ment, they are the very difficult essentials of any positive 
growth in the negro race. For the negroes, perhaps the 
very first essential is a complete understanding of their own 
condition with a clear, implicit, final feeling that the races 
will develop separately. There is ample opportunity for 
each and prosperity should be a mutual benefit. With this 
conception inherent, the Negro will find his unconscious 
strivings after the new ideals a stable basis for prosperity. 
Then he may stand for race purity, race pride and loyalty 
and race solidarity. This can only come about when he 
has ceased to wish to become a white man. There is and 
will be a large field for simple success and happiness, with 
progressive achievement for the successfully developed 
black man ; there is and will not be a place for a black white 
man. Self-improvement should be the first result. The 
bettering of the immediate situation and the preparation for 
future growth will be most facilitated by uncompromising 
industrious and industrial application, and by a demand on 
the part of the Negro for his race of a higher standard of 
living. Following these, moral improvement and concerted 
ideals will be possible; the intellectual capacity may then 
have an opportunity to develop. A practical crusade for 
industry, economy, thrift and better home conditions is ab 
solutely necessary if any immediate results are to be ex 
pected; each delay renders the future less favorable, unless 
indeed, it is the wish of the Negro to allow the process of 
elimination to proceed at length and then to take the re 
maining few for the nucleus of a new race development. It 
does seem that the Negro, recognizing the exact traits and 



290 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [594 

tendencies and their possibilities for good or bad, would be 
willing to undertake the things which are absolutely neces 
sary to his welfare. There may be conflicting opinions 
about the race relations in the future, about the ultimate 
solution, but there is no conflict in the facts already set forth ; 
they^ are uncontrovertible. The Negro, then, should be 
willing to face the situation and work for specific, definite 
benefits, rather than advocate improvement on world-wide 
comparisons and dream of an ideal deliverance into a state 
of greatness and prosperity. Race agitation is more harm 
ful to the Negro, little hurtful to the whites. Definite 
plans and means through personal strivings, beginning with 
ever so insignificant results and working slowly, persistently 
surely, outward these will work substantial gains. The 
Negro must give up his superficiality, as rapidly as it is 
possible for him to do so, and face his problems one by one 
in the order of their immediate importance. 

Nor should this appear to be a gloomy outlook. There is 
a remarkable unity in all of the Negro s weakness and 
stronger points. Enough of the excellent qualities of the 
Negro have been given expression to indicate a large pos 
sibility; to develop these capabilities should be a joyous 
problem for the earnest negro. Negro individuals have 
succeeded ; negro communities have shown the power of suc 
cessful self-direction. There are many sections where the 
negroes show a large degree of prosperity. The Negro has 
the capacity to enjoy life within his own race. The very 
satisfaction of earning honest success with honest toil, the 
physical comforts and the spiritual satisfaction in the pres 
ent and in the outlook for the future are no little rewards. 
A healthy body, a wholesome thought and moral feeling, a 
guarantee of comforts and work in helping make a civiliza 
tion, with a gradual intellectual improvement will make the 
Negro an increasingly important factor in the civilization in 



595] THE NE GRO PROBLEM 291 

which he lives. The problem is one of developing the possi 
bilities of a potent race ; what service could be more lofty or 
more satisfying? Nothing that the Negro might achieve 
inter-racially can ever compare with his services in helping 
his own society. In no other way can he achieve fame so 
easily or so unquestionably fixed. Such negf*oes will al 
ways be honored and find satisfaction in representing the in 
terests of their people. Many recent conferences in the 
South between the whites and blacks show a distinct and 
healthful spirit of encouragement on both sides. The Negro 
has an unlimited field before him in the higher work of 
teaching, preaching and professional work among his own 
people. There will be no competition there outside of his 
own race, when he has once found his place. The fidelity 
of the negro teacher and other workers reveals a most en 
thusiastic and hopeful outlook. Their wholesome enjoy 
ment of work and the satisfaction gained from results are 
most gratifying. Again, the large number of names of 
negroes who have been recognized by the whites both South 
and North is suggestive of the possibilities that may be at 
tained through a devoted race struggle. The attitude of 
the world in encouraging such negroes could scarcely be 
more pronounced. From the viewpoint of race pride and 
development, it would be difficult to find a more enviable 
field for service than that of leading the negro race steadily, 
safely, through the changing scenes of a growing civiliza 
tion. It is easy for the white man to say to the negroes 
that permanent achievement comes only through hard work 
and sacrifice; that it has come in this way to every people 
as well as individuals who have survived. Likewise it is 
easy to say to them that such sacrifices, whatever form they 
may take, are the source of unlimited spiritual satisfaction. 
It is more difficult for the Negro to face the situation and 
meet it squarely and unflinchingly. Still it is the best sym- 



292 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [596 

pathy and co-operation that can be offered to the Negro 
for the white man to join with him in meeting the situation 
squarely and to share with him in a practical, substantial 
way the hardships that must sometimes come. It is not, 
then, "closing the doors of opportunity and hope to ask that 
the best be made of a situation, in the successful outcome of 
which means the fate and happiness of the negro race in 
America. Who would discount the life and work of Booker 
Washington ? There is yet a far greater work to be done. 
For the whites, it is also necessary that they recognize the 
fact that the question of social equality is not a problem ; all 
agitation based on the sensational fear of negro domination 
is quite unnecessary and harmful. Such agitation tends to 
create a thought-problem where none should exist. An im 
plicit understanding on the part of both races is all that is 
necessary for the beginning of a better relation between the 
races. The negroes will not want social equality ; the whites 
will not be conscious of such a possibility. It will more 
easily be recognized, then, that the development of the 
negro race tends to the prosperity of the whites, as does the 
success and prosperity of the whites make better conditions 
for the Negro. With a clear understanding that the Negro 
is working to achieve worth and prosperity in his own field, 
the whites will co-operate for his betterment. An important 
need for the whites is a scientific study of the Negro and 
his environmental conditions. Unless we know what the 
Negro is, there can be little intelligent direction and assist 
ance given him. Whether he remain in the South or mi 
grate to various parts of the United States, or whether 
he be assisted to establish a separate government and 
civilization, or whatever the ultimate solution might be, 
,. other than the logical development, it is vital that we know 
his capacities and potentialities. In any case he must be 
educated intelligently, effectively, permanently. For the 



597] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 293 

sake of the whites as well as the blacks it is essential that he 
be given a fair chance. A thorough knowledge of the Negro 
will be followed by a third essential, namely broader and im 
partial thinking. Liberality and fair-play, legal j ustice and the 
justice of opportunity in the sense of best fitting the Negro 
for his best efforts these must be qualities of >he Southern 
whites. Justice to the Negro and justice to society are essen 
tials to the successful development of the future civilization 
of the South. Efficient laws and their enforcement will 
facilitate the rendering of such justice. Again, the whites 
may well be expected to show a greater personal interest in 
the life and welfare of the Negro, and a greater willingness 
to assist him. There can be no surer way of hindering the 
Negro s growth than by giving him false ideals; his path 
should be made plain, not necessarily smooth, and he 
should be intelligently assisted to make his way. In this the 
white man has opportunity for effective service to the Negro 
and the South. Such assistance can begin nowhere else than 
in each community by introducing among the negroes a prac 
tical, enthusiastic campaign for industry and better home 
life. This can be done in many ways. A negro commun 
ity once enthusiastic upon the subject, coerced and assisted 
by the whites can do much. The whites can best start the 
Negro in such work and can as well continue to help 
him. There is room for the individual and for the church, 
municipality, and State to assist practically without the 
objections commonly suggested to such policies. To those 
who wish to contribute money to the problem, there is pros 
pect of effective results if in co-operation with whites and 
blacks of the South. A clear understanding of all policies 
and a frank, sincere directness of methods should character 
ize all work. It is indeed a problem, which, although a 
difficult one and one which demands scientific knowledge and 
methods with judicial interpretations and sane appreciation 



294 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [598 

of all the forces which operate, challenges our civilization to 
work wonders with it. The North can also assist much 
in effectively and successfully dealing with the Negro in 
the North a problem more advanced in some respects. In 
this way the South may be able to receive much as 
sistance in planning for the future. The Negro in the 
North feels his situation with more keenness than he does in 
the South. Again, the whites should be charitable in their 
judgment of the Negro. The sensuality of the Negro, while 
extremely developed, is but a natural inheritance. His 
laziness is neither surprising nor hopeless. His religion is 
not savage. Comparisons are suggestive. The closing of 
the frontal sinus of the brain may be functional and easily 
affected by development. The Negro has overwhelming 
odds in inheritance and environment with which he must 
compete. He deserves sympathy, encouragement, positive 
and firm direction, and practicaly intelligent assistance. It 
is now generally admitted by many students of the problem 
that in proportion as they come in closer contact with the 
situation their knowledge of the Negro seems less extensive 
and sure. On the other hand, there is much experience 
back of the common statement that " a negro is a negro and 
you can t make anything else out of him." But he may be 
assisted to be a good negro and that is the highest privilege 
that can be given him. 

Little remains to be said. The effort has been made, first, 
to give an accurate estimate of the Negro, based on facts ob 
tained by a discriminating study of conditions in Southern 
towns, an effort to add to our knowledge of the Negro, 
with the special view to his capacities and potentials. Sec 
ondly, the effort has been made to portray the conditions of 
the negro race in such communities as they now exist with 
the special correspondence between his environment and the 
whites, and the probable relations which will exist in the 



599] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 295 

future. Thirdly, if then we know what the Negro is and 
what his environmental opportunities and requirements are 
and will be, certain self-evident duties suggest themselves to 
whites and blacks. It takes no prophet to add up these con 
ditions and come to a conclusion concerning the problem. 
Either the present tendencies and conditions will continue 
at an increasing ratio with the resulting failure of the negro 
race in America, or they will continue at a constantly de 
creasing ratio until the Negro has found himself, adjusted 
himself to conditions, and had a chance to develop his in 
herent capacities with success. Nor is it difficult to see 
that it will take unusual efforts on the part of all concerned 
to achieve the fullest measure of success in the working 
out of the problem. The facts call for tolerance, broad- 
mindedness and patience. They also call for a recognition 
of the unwisdom of attempting to treat the Negro as if he 
possessed the same content of mind as the whites. It would 
seem that if both whites and blacks knew what the condi 
tions are, what is possible and probable, what the outcome 
should be, and what it will take to bring it about, that they 
would be willing to undertake the task. There can be no 
valid objection offered to the policy of helping the negroes 
to a healthful and healthy living. Likewise there appears 
no argument to favor the policy of encouraging his super 
ficiality. Emphasis is placed on the saving and developing 
of the race rather than upon the economic value of the 
Negro to the Country, which will follow as a logical result. 
It will not suffice for the critic to affirm that many of 
the traits of the Negro as described are found, not only 
among the negroes of Africa, but are common to most unde 
veloped peoples. This is true enough. In all cases the 
facts are as stated. These conditions are the potential 
upon which any future must be developed and it matters 
little what are the relative traits so long as we have in mind 



296 SOCIAL AND MENTAL TRAITS OF THE NEGRO [600 

the development of the Negro. But a careful analysis of 
the traits and the quality and circumstances of their ex 
pression indicates differences of temperament in the two 
races which are almost indefinable but which show that the 
lowest whites have the defects of the whites, not of the 
negroes, the highest negroes have the good qualities of the 
negroes, not of the whites. It is not claimed that the 
Negroes possess such characteristics as have been described 
exclusively or that they are peculiar to the Negro as a race. 
In general it would seem that the Negro possesses the ac 
cepted characteristics of the savage mind, that is, the same 
kind of general manifestation of the phenomena of ab 
straction, inhibition and choice ; he also reveals many modi 
fications of such manifestations. But be this as it may, the 
Negro in the South to-day presents a problem, the particu 
lars of which have been described in the foregoing pages. 
The practical application does not differ, whether the Negro 
possesses different laws of mental activity, whether the 
manifestations of his phenomena depend upon the character 
of individual experience that is subjected to the mental laws, 
or whether it is facility brought about by habitual response. 
That is, for the present purpose, it matters little whether the 
organization of the Negro s mind is different from that of 
the whites or whether there is only a difference of content of 
mind. In any case there is consistency in the policies which 
give the Negro opportunity to develop whatever is best in 
the individual and in the race, and which attempt to reveal 
those fundamental characteristics which at present lie at the 
centre of the problem. In either case the process must be 
essentially the same. 

There is neither place nor cause for pessimism. The 
problem is a difficult one and it will become more difficult 
and complex. Likewise the problems of special labor situa 
tions, immigration and economic adjustments are difficult. 



5 OI ] THE NEGRO PROBLEM 297 

There will be conflicts just as is inevitable under race con 
ditions and relations in a compound society. At times such 
conflicts will seem more intense and threatening, but they 
do not now constitute a serious problem and they should 
not be allowed to overshadow the issues involved. Likewise 
sensational measures and discussions both Sou^h and North 
should not be permitted to cloud the real issues and to throw 
the study of the problem into heated and senseless discus 
sions. In any complex situation it is easy to take the ex 
treme view, emphasize and multiply and with the aid of 
the imagination and probable facts, to reach a sincere con 
clusion as to the hopelessness of the problem. It is like 
wise easy to emphasize and multiply the opposite extremes 
and conceive impractical, Utopian solutions. A civilization 
like that which the American people will develop ought to 
be able to cope with such a problem as that involved in 
the adjustment of the relations between different races. 
Pessimism can only be interpreted to mean an admission of 
unwillingness to face a problem at once difficult, immediate, 
significant and hopeful. 



APPENDIX 



TOPIC: CHILDREN DIFFER IN ENVIRONMENT 

Discussion: Thomas P. Bailey, Supt. of Schools, Memphis, 

Tenn. 

My discussion shall concern itself only with the first sub- 
topic, Southern Problems. 

There is only one Southern problem, and it is one of en 
vironment. For Southern children are the truest of Ameri 
cans by birth and tradition, and therefore if they are being 
bred in the cult of caste, nurture due to conditions and not 
nature due to inheritance must be responsible for their de 
parture from the splendid type of American Democracy. 

But do not suppose that even by implication I am con 
demning my own dear people. Public peace and the safety 
of the state demand that the less developed race be subordin 
ate to the more developed, under conditions as they exist 
in the South today. The Caste of the Kin is the practice 
of the theory that blood is thicker than water ; and the Ser 
mon on the Mount can not invalidate God s own law of the 
Survival of the Fittest. If these widely different races can 
not blend their blood and instinct and science say nay 
the only real foundation for democracy, equality actual or 
potential, does not exist and can not be created. The prin 
ciples of liberty, equality and fraternity are as abstractly 
true as Newton s Laws of Motion, but the real resistance of 
race-consciousness brings about as real a friction as does the 
resistance of the aid in modifying the action of bodies in 
motion. 

603] 299 



300 APPENDIX [604 

The all-inclusive virtue, love itself, has a biological basis, 
and character-values are conditioned by body-facts. Thus 
it happens that the Southerner s loyalty to his race comes 
of his love of his kind, the kind he knows and values. 

But should such conditions exist? Must Southern chil 
dren of the dominant race grow up to scorn and despise, 
or else condescendingly to tolerate, their less fortunate fel 
low-creatures ? Or shall we legitimate lust and short-circuit 
the destiny of a Chosen People? Southerners understand 
the apparent cruelty imputed to the God of Israel who is 
represented as commanding the extermination of non- 
assimilable peoples. But the more refined killing of today 
in the South is not the occasional taking of a Negro s life 
but the impassive and relentless murder of a people s hopes. 
But better this than worse that might be. Better twenty 
years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. Better praeter- 
natural suspicion than breeding dusky broods. Sometimes 
we must be cruel would we be kind. 

Only in the Kingdom of Heaven is there neither marriage 
nor giving in marriage. Now the Kingdom has not yet 
come in the South. Therefore, let him that would establish 
any kind of equality on any basis other than that of a bio 
logically based family life, give us the recipe for life in a 
vacuum. 

Again I ask Should these things be? Must the South 
ern child be compelled to choose between the ideal and the 
real in a world where ideals must be realized in accordance 
with the laws of nature? Will sickly saintliness bring us 
salvation? Or must we seek safety in racial selfishness? 
God forbid the answer, " Yes," to either of these last two 
questions! Who shall deliver us from the body of this 
death! 

I dare not hope to put this subject before you sharply in 
a hasty minute or two. But I must make an appeal in the 



605] APPENDIX 30I 

name of the righteous God and of bewildered humanity. 
I ask that you leaders of education think on these things 
in this wise : Let us have this Negro Question studied. We 
are studying tariffs and the price of beef ; we become parti 
sans about a pole invisible and intangible; our scientific 
expeditions scour land and sea for specimens of, fauna and 
flora; we discriminate nicely the uncertain tints of Mexican 
Indians; we explore the heavens above, the earth beneath 
and the waters under the earth all these we do, and much 
more, without the waving of bloody shirts or the planting of 
party platforms. 

Let us take the Negro Question out of politics, out of 
society, out of popular religious discussion, out of prize 
fighting, out of all wherein heat doth obtain rather than 
light. 

Let us put the Negro Question into science, and science 
into the Negro Question. We have tried all else, and in 
vain. Parties and churches and schools, and philanthropies 
of all kinds, have brought us not one whit nearer a solution. 
The favorite prescription for a solution is education, es 
pecially industrial education. And yet there are towns 
where Negro artisans are not allowed to work and labor 
unions in plenty that Negroes may not enter. Education 
for what ? Are the whites going to neglect the training of 
their children s hands? When the grandsons of the former 
slave-owners are dead will any one prefer Negro Labor, 
skilled or unskilled, to white? 

Can education abolish race-consciousness and re-pattern 
the convolutions of the brain? Aye, education may solve 
the race-problem and all problems, but when and where 
and how? 

Men and brethern, let us study the Race Problem. Let 
the study be national and international, for ours is not the 
only problem of race. Let the study be scientific and not 



3 02 APPENDIX [606 

sentimental; co-operative and not individualistic; continuous 
and not scrappy ; professional and not dilettante ; humani 
tarian and not partisan. 

Let us isolate the surd and square the whole equation 
find- a square deal. It is science, and science alone, star- 
eyed science, truth-loving science, spiritually intellectual 
science it is the Twentieth Century s greatest power, the 
scientific research of today, that can prepare us for the doing 
of this Nation s greatest duty the solution of this problem, 
so as to free two unallied peoples and make the states of 
this union United States indeed and in truth ! 




VITA 



HOWARD WASHINGTON ODUM, the author of this disser 
tation, was born May 24, 1884, in Walton County, Georgia. 
He received the A. B. Degree in 19x14 from Emory Col 
lege, Oxford, Georgia, and the A. M. degree from the 
University of Mississippi in 1906. In 1905 1906 he 
was assistant principal of the Toccopola School and in 
1905 1908 he was instructor in the University of Mis 
sissippi. He was fellow in Psychology at Clark Univer 
sity in 1908 1909. and received the Ph. D. degree in 
1909. During his stay at Clark University he studied 
under the direction of President G. Stanley Hall. Pro 
fessors Carroll D. Wright. Edmund C. Sanford, William 
H. Burnham, Clifton F. Hodge, and Alexander F. Cham 
berlain. He was a student at Columbia University in 
1909 1910. During his stay at Columbia he studied 
under the direction of Professors Franklin H. Giddings, 
Edwin R. A. Seligman, Henry R. Seager, John B. Clark 
and William A. Dunning, and attended the seminars of 
Professors Giddings and Seligman. He has published 
" Religious Folk-songs of the Southern Negroes " 
(American Journal of Religious Psychology and Educa 
tion. July, 1909, Vol. Hi, pp. 265 365). 

303 



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